We are nearly a quarter of the way to Christmas but, more importantly, only a few weeks, or even days, away from Spring. And Spring means NEW PRODUCTS. Yay!
The expected new recording units from Garmin might well include: Forerunner 245; updated Fenix 5; Edge 530/830; Forerunner 745XT; and a Forerunner 45. These and other new products are speculated/known about here (link to: the5krunner.com).
But what about other stuff from Garmin. I’m talking about sensors and accessories of all sorts, shapes and sizes.
Here is the glaring gap in Garmin’s range in 2018. Bluetooth. Other than Vector 3, Garmin don’t transmit live data over BLE.
Zwift Run Related
Garmin footpods can’t directly talk to Zwift for most people.
Of course your ANT+ footpod can have its signal converted by a USB ANT+ dongle but imagine the number of people who would have absolutely no idea what one of those was. Plus it’s an extra gadget to go wrong and people might as well just go and buy a new foodpod that sends out both bluetooth and ANT+ signals. I would. Probably from STRYD or Milestone if you only want to talk to Zwift/BLE devices.
Of course it might also be possible to broadcast pace based on wrist movement whilst on a treadmill. But will that be accurate? Probably not.
So bluetooth pace (and related stride length/cadence metrics) need to come from a footpod. Is it worth Garmin’s while to do that?
Zwift has over 500,000 bike users. Even 10% of that userbase for tri/running represents a fairly interesting market size. Plus there would potentially be app users and non-Garmin users who might buy such a pod. Let’s say 100,000 trade sales @ $30. I’d get out of bed for that!
Against that you have to factor in the relative ease of market entry and the existing level of competition.
Nevertheless Zwift Run will be the driver for Garmin to make ‘something’ that sends out ANT+ and BLE data for runners.
If a simple ANT+/BLE footpod that otherwise simply replaces the existing footpod is not enough to justify a new product from Garmin then, perhaps, that footpod also needs some new capabilities? …
Running Dynamics Related
Running dynamics is an interesting area to me. It’s probably a factor in people deciding to spend a little more on a watch in order to somehow become a better runner. Then, of course, most of those people (and me too!) probably fail to ever really look regularly at the data.
Whilst we might see Running Dynamics (RD) metrics expand and evolve, perhaps including many other aspects of foot and body motion. I just don’t think we will. By extension, I don’t think we will see any more sensors just for providing the same RD data or extended RD data.
There WAS a gap in Garmin’s line up for the provision of RD data to those who don’t wear a chest strap ie because they have optical HR devices on the wrist. But the RD-POD has already filled that gap.
I am somewhat suspicious of existing Running Dynamics data (hence power too). Whilst that RD data seems consistent in itself I am not so sure about the Ground Contact Time (GCT) accuracy when calculated anywhere but from a foot-based pod.
GCT is an input for the Garmin Running Power (GRP) algorithm. If Garmin want to take GRP any further either as an app or as a physical product then GCT needs to be accurate..unless Garmin are happy that it is accurate already. Which I don’t think it is. (IMO).
Running with Power is clearly a growing market. Rest assured that Garmin have already spotted that and quantified that. Perhaps the introduction in 2017 of the Garmin Running Power (GRP) apps was their counter to the physical products already competing for POWER-based business ie STRYD and, to a lesser extent, RunScribe (so far) and SHFT.
Ie The GRP apps might well be all there is from Garmin
I have a feeling that this is the case.
But I’m torn. Maybe it’s enough that the ‘free’ power apps from Garmin drive some sales of the expensive, higher-end Garmin watches (the only ones that support the app)
But if Garmin sense a bigger longterm opportunity then a STRYD-esque product could be on the cards, perhaps also linked to win/weather via a smart phone, like the existing apps.
Or maybe Garmin will just buy STRYD…
Running Pace Related
The existing footpods are already fairly accurate once calibrated to a given speed. Perhaps the market for people wanting super-accuracy is somewhat limited? Essentially here we are talking about something similar to STRYD Live.
Yet if Garmin want to take Running Power any further then they simply MUST provide better inputs to the Running Power algorithm. GPS-based pace is simply not good enough, in my opinion.
Running Pod – Summary
So if Garmin produced a slightly more accurate footpod over all pace ranges, that also sent out BLE and ANT+ data then all could be good. If it also calculates and send out better GCT then I will be happier still.
Probability for 2018? 40%
A New Chest Strap
A few years ago I waited anxiously for the HRM-BIKE. It never materialised. Perhaps the allure of body sway and vertical oscillationw whilst cycling were not sufficient to warrant a new product 🙂
Potential new moves for the chest strap.
- As before with the footpod, there is the allure of Bluetooth. Not just for ZWIFT but for the many, many gym users. Many gym users use apps and apps typically need Bluetooth. The gym market is a BIG market but apps are free. Then again, the gym market could be a gateway to subsequent purchases and if you buy a Polar OH1 for the gym then does that make your most likely running watch a M430 or a Garmin 245?
- Caching. The obvious example here is the gym example. Polar’s OH1 and H10 compete here nicely and linking to the Polar Beat app. If you go out of range of the smartphone in the bag at the side of the class all is fine as the data is cached. But then you take that example one step further and imagine the exact same use in team sports where you can’t wear a wrist watch (or shouldn’t).. And then you take it yet another step further to professional team sports and providing team-based systems.
- An innovative chest strap could determine cadence for cycling (like the WAHOO TICKR) but…it can’t be a big market.
- 4iiii have also introduced firmware to make chest straps more sensitive, for example, taking better readings for people with more body fat.
Probability for 2018? 70% that we will see a Bluetooth HRM, maybe with a few additional goodies bundled in.
A New Arm Band with oHR
This would be like the Scosche Rhythm 24 or Wahoo Tickr Fit (review) or Polar OH1 (review) or like the many cheaper version that you will see this year. I have one to giveaway here in my March 2018 giveaway.
Forget HRV. And remember that you will get better results with an armband that from your wrist watch. Then just look at all the target markets of the previous section for chest straps. The same opportunities exist here for chest straps.
Also some people just don’t like chest straps or, for a few reasons, can’t get readings from them.
The Scosches have done well. There is a market. But is it a market for Garmin?
It should be esay enough for them to adapt the ELEVATE sensor. But will they?
I’m not sure that Garmin’s VARIA Vision ever did that well, I could be wrong. I’ve never seen one but would secretly like to use one providing that no-one I knew saw me using it 🙂
I’ve only briefly looked at the COROS Smart Helmet but did spend a fair while with the LIVALL smart helmet (review), which did seed superior. Indicators on your helmet…awesome.
However their ‘smartness’ is good but there is LOTS more potential to get even smarter with greater levels of integration to other cycling sensors and devices. as a really simple example you get simple switches that are engages when a break cable is tensioned (below). Similarly I’m sure Shimano and SRAM could easily build something in to the shifters if they so desired. These would all link back to brake lights on the rear of the helmet or elsewhere.
So Garmin could literally ‘put their thinking cap on’ and come out with a smart helmet. They would be expensive AND need replacing if dropped…kerching.
Probability for 2018: 10%
Yeah. This won’t be a surprise. It won’t be cheap either. Garmin bought Alphamantis
Live Coaching, Adaptive Training
Although having said that Garmin do need to better incorporate workout planning and in-workout audio feedback.
They could talk to Firstbeat about the former. Like Suunto did. And as Polar invented themselves previously.
Radar, Brake lights
Not really sure. They already exist of course and work quite well in my experience.
Probability of new ones: ?
Nah. Not enough money in it for Garmin. There will be swim innovation, though not from Garmin. I’ve talked to a few companies and trainsense have a good ‘power paddle’ product
Other Physiological Sensors
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