With the likely impending official announcement of Garmin’s Forerunner 635 (running) and Forerunner 935 (triathlon) watches, combined with the already announced Fenix 5 ‘collection’, then we are left wondering what will justify the notably higher price tags.
We’ve already seen one part of the answer to that with better and more powerful hardware for the Fenix 5.
But what else?
Part of Garmin’s problem will be to convince early adopters LIKE ME to spend Eur/GBP/USD500 or more. It’s a lot of money. I’ll need convincing because my current watch(es) do EVERYTHING I need them to already. OK the 920XT is ugly but it DOES do the job.
We’ve already heard from Firstbeat that their new Training Effect 2.0 algorithm will be incorporated. Nice. I like that. But I already had that kind of data elsewhere in any case. I don’t need that.
Let’s cut to the chase: It looks like Garmin have a new Running Pod coming out.
“Whoopy-do!” I hear you shout.
OK. OK. Bear with me!! 🙂 I hear ya!
It looks like we are talking about a more accurate device to start off with.
The existing Garmin footpod DOES improve the accuracy of current pace with the Forerunner watches that support it as a source of pace/speed. When calibrated properly it further improves the accuracy. I, seriously, wouldn’t run without one. Until recently that is. One of the very welcome side-effects of ‘running with power’ or, more specifically, running with STRYD is that STRYD also transmit more accurate data to give even more accuracy for pace/speed data (as well as power 🙂 ). So now I ALWAYS run with a STRYD footpod.
Source: Me and verified in more detail by fellrnr. Follow the links for a discount for STRYD if you are interested in buying one.
It looks like the new Garmin Footpod will also herald new running metrics. My regular reader would have seen my personal view of yet more running data here (article “Data Laden Athlete”). Whilst I doubt the usefulness of some of it a recent post by dcrainmaker doubted the accuracy of ANY of it!
We have this Garmin timeline of running dynamics functionality…no major jumps from the first to second iteration:
- Running Dynamics – ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and cadence
- Advanced Running Dynamics – stride length, ground contact time balance (contact time for left vs right foot), vertical ratio (vertical oscillation/stride length) + other stuff
- Running Dynamics 3 – not known. Many new metrics could be added such as Leg Spring Stiffness, Air Time, Pronation Angle, Toe Off Angle, Footstrike Type and more. For a bit more detail see the metrics already offered by STRYD, SHFT, Runscribe PRO, Kinematix TUNE)
But we’re getting a bit too carried away here.
Let’s not forget we are ‘just’ talking about a new running pod. BUT we are also talking about an existing chest strap – the rather awesome (IMO) HRM-RUN and HRM-TRI. The running metrics will be gathered in two different locations – strap for the old metrics and pod for the new ones. That’s great and probably a correct approach to the locations of gathering data. (A further sensor on the hips might also be welcomed but let’s not get even more carried away…yet.)
I have a sneaky feeling that we are also due a new HRM-RUN (probably called HRM5-RUN and HRM5-TRI). This may well contain a new metric or two linked to torso motion and other exciting HR measurements like increased sensitivity (as announced recently for Polar’s H10 and 4iiii’s Viiiiva), possibly also containing components for the Training Effect 2.0.
So that’s great we have a new pod. Maybe a new HRM5-RUN /TRI and all this new data. How will the Forerunner 635 and Forerunner 935 cope? How will Garmin Connect cope?
Massive data integration problems abound?!?
It’s all working already. Connect IQ allows 3rd parties to add new metrics and they show all fine and dandy in Garmin connect RIGHT NOW. if 3rd parties can do it I’m 100% sure Garmin will have no problems.
So that’s great too?
I reckon there is still one more possible piece to this jigsaw.
Well BOLTT, to be more accurate. BOLTT Wearables, no relation.
I can’t quite see Garmin coming up with a technique coaching system that ties all these sensors together in real-time and provides instant audio feedback. I reckon they are working with BOLTT to do this. An argument against that would be that BOLTT are already producing their own hardware as well as a coaching system. Another argument would be that I am wrong.
Such a system sounds like the rather nice SHFT system that I recently reviewed, BUT integrated more concisely into the Garmin Connect IQ ecosystem and NOT REQUIRING A SMARTPHONE. That would be a smart move for BOLTT-cum-Garmin.
Maybe Garmin are doing this by themselves. I don’t know.
Maybe the BOLTT thing is totally separate but just integrating into CIQ. I don’t know. Lots’ of “I don’t knows”, sorry.
Then there is the issue of accuracy and actionability. Recent work by Mr Rainmaker threw doubt onto the accuracy, consistency and longterm usefulness of ANY of these running gait-type products. Perhaps a harsh interpretation but certainly one to bear in mind.
There is the further issue of backwards compatibility with earlier devices like the Garmin Forerunner 920XT. If a simple footpod is coming out then, sure, why not make it compatible with everything ever/ That way you sell more sensors. If it’s a great new running ‘system’ then Garmin might naturally want to encourage us to upgrade our watches – hence NO backwards compatibility. Or there could just be partial backwards compatibility where the newly accurate speed/pace works on older models. Again, just speculation.
The next step beyond all of this would then be to integrate sensor-based voice coaching of technique into a more comprehensive workout engine from Garmin Connect. So by that I mean a better workout/training scheduler that actually reacts dynamically to ongoing bodily adaptation to exercise by adjusting the upcoming training accordingly as the days pass. But an approach that also has technique improvement/coached drills as part of that ‘plan’. Of course it would be based on current ability and tailored towards a couple of A and B races in the months ahead too. I’m PRETTY SURE this is not on the immediate horizon as it is HORRENDOUSLY complex in many respects just for running let alone triathlon.
A further complication might be running power. With that particular market ‘taking off’, to some degree, a new Garmin footpod with JUST the right, more accurate, internal components might also be able to estimate running power. My opinion is that this is quite likely, although maybe that will come through firmware updates down the line. Don’t forget power is already computed by STRYD and, sort of, by SHFT.
So. I may well be left with egg on my face when ‘just a slightly more accurate footpod’ comes out. But I suspect that a lot of the above is on the cards. Both because it is a new, logical market opportunity for Garmin but also an opportunity to justify pricing of the new 635 and 935 later this year.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Would love to hear from anyone who has further insights to add on this subject, below. Thank you!
Sources: appelmoessite, fellrnr.com, travis.vitek (forum post), gpsrumours.com, FCC, dcrainmaker and others.