Some exciting news today from Polar concerning one aspect of their future in the wareables/sport/activity market in an interview with Polar UK MD Malcolm Douglas (partial transcript below).
As many of us thought, Polar were rightly waiting to get the technology right before releasing their technology to us being super sensitive about the accuracy of HR.
It looks likely that the first optical products from Polar will be activity wrist bands. Essentially aimed at the consumer market rather than the athletic market. Hopefully we will see announcements on these later this year.
This is a wise choice bearing in mind the difficulty of getting athletically-accurate, optical-HR readings at high-effort levels for every athlete. As, indeed, Apple and others have found.
Mr Douglas MAY (I don’t know) also be playing his cards close to his chest about accuracy. It’s looking hopeful that HRV-level accuracy optical products will hit the streets this year. And that is a higher level of accuracy than we’re talking about to date from anyone with optical HR – high enough for athletes (with caveats)
Source: WAREABLE.COM: http://www.wareable.com/polar/polar-wrist-based-heart-rate-tracking-2015
Polar has confirmed it is working on a new low-price fitness wearable, with a built-in optical heart rate monitor, aimed at gym goers.
Speaking exclusively to Wareable, Polar’s UK MD Malcolm Douglas said the company’s fitness trackers will finally join the optical heart rate (OHR) trend, but that accuracy remains paramount to the product. The new products will be aimed at consumers rather than elite athletes.
According to Douglas, though, there is a good reason for Polar’s delay in joining the trend. “We haven’t moved on because it wasn’t, in our case, universally accepted by everyone as a successful alternative to what we already have,” he said.
However, Douglas and his team do recognise there’s a growing demand for strap-free tracking.
“Clearly there are a lot of athletes, a lot of women for instance, who would say that it’s uncomfortable to wear a chest strap and there’s an image of this optical heart rate idea that it’s easier or more comfortable and I think it’s a trend.”
“Just like GPS was a trend, just like heart rate was a trend and just like sleep tracking was a trend. I think this (OHR) may well become a trend but from our point of view it will all come down to how accurate it is,” explained Douglas.
“I’m not sure it’s going to get into professional sport but it depends. It’ll have to become more accurate if that’s what people want but you can see products are coming into the marketplace but at a very slow pace. And we’re planning one but it’ll be a retail product, it won’t be a professional sports product at this stage.”
So what kind of product will we see hitting the shelves? Well it won’t be a Polar V800 sporting an OHR sensor.
“Maybe not as sophisticated as that.” says Douglas. “But it’ll be a lower price product, and it’ll be a low end fitness product for those people that just want to go to the gym. But it will develop and I’ve no doubt in time it’ll become more sophisticated. But I think it’s one of those development things that we’ll have to see.”