Suunto 9 BARO – Breaking FusedTrack

The new Suunto 9 BARO (non BARO version also available) showcases Suunto’s new FusedTrack feature.

Here’s how it works and it only works for running: GPS positions are sampled infrequently (Endurance Mode 60 secs & Ultra Mode 120 secs). Between those points the Suunto 9’s motion sensor provides inputs to a directional algorithm to joint the dots BUT it does not draw a straight line. It tries to predict where you were running in between those points effectively using inertial navigation.

I’ve already made a quick post on MY FIRST RUN with FusedTrack here (link to: the5krunner.com) and below there are also links from DCR and Gerald (GZS, below). However I’ve now added in, further below, some more moves/GPS tracks where I have specifically tried to BREAK FUSEDTRACK. I *did* manage to break it but it’s still generally very good for what it is. I also DID try really hard to come up with a witty play on words linking to the TV series ‘Breaking Bad‘ … but failed. Sorry.

 

DCR’s First Run

Source: https://media.dcrainmaker.com/images/2018/06/image-25.png and clickable to that image

Gerald’s First Long Run

30k run from GZS (Source: uhrenundtouren.com clickable to google maps)

My First Run

BLUE: Garmin FR935: This is recording at 1-second intervals with GPS only. Worn on the right arm on the underside. Wearing on the underside goes some way to explain the ‘alright’ track – but wearing it like that avoids damaging two adjacent watches. That’s why I did it.
GREEN: Suunto 9: This is in ULTRA mode sampling every 120 seconds and there is no GLONASS on the Suunto 9. Worn on the left arm in the correct position.
RED: Suunto Spartan Ultra: This is set to ‘OK’ GPS mode only with 60-second intermittent sampling. GLONASS was OFF. Worn on the right arm in the correct position.

Suunto S9 FusedTrack

Green = Suunto 9, Blue = 935, Red = Suunto SPARTAN ULTRA

 

My First Run – Detail 1

My First Run – Detail 2

My First Run – Detail 3

My Second Run

RED: Garmin FR935: This is recording at 1-second intervals with GPS only. Worn on the right arm on the underside. Wearing on the underside goes some way to explain the ‘alright’ track – but wearing it like that avoids damaging two adjacent watches. That’s why I did it.
BLUE Suunto 9: This is in ULTRA mode sampling every 120 seconds and there is no GLONASS on the Suunto 9. Worn on the left arm in the correct position.
GREEN: Suunto Spartan Ultra: This is set to ‘OK’ GPS mode only with 60-second intermittent sampling. GLONASS was OFF. Worn on the right arm in the correct position.

Here I tried to both simulate difficult GPS conditions in an urban environment with tall buildings as well as making quite sharp turns and using underpasses and tunnels.

Blue Suunto 9, Green ULTRA, Red  935

The 935 (red) is about right and is recording what a proper track should look like. The ULTRA (on 60-second mode) does some sort of vaguely valid job but the Suunto 9 (on 2minute GPS + FusedTrack) just doesn’t do it. From left to right going on to the bridge is a high building and then a gentle slope up the bridge. That building DOES cause issues when I am doing a GPS test here but the Suunto 9 may not even have been recording GPS when it was near that building.

I am at a loss to explain this one. It looks like the Suunto 9 got the turn correect going on to the bridge but then next tried to get a GPS fix whilst in the tunnel at the other end of the bridge. This reading in the tunnel was super-wrong (as would be expected in tunnels) but the Suunto 9 appeared to think it was correct and then based subsequent movements on that single incorrect GPS position….maybe

My Third Run

GREEN: Garmin FR935: This is recording at 1-second intervals with GPS only. Worn on the right arm on the underside. Wearing on the underside goes some way to explain the ‘alright’ track – but wearing it like that avoids damaging two adjacent watches. That’s why I did it.
RED Suunto 9: This is in ENDURANCE mode sampling every 60 seconds and there is no GLONASS on the Suunto 9. Worn on the left arm in the correct position.
BLUE: Suunto Spartan Ultra: This is set to ‘OK’ GPS mode only with 60-second intermittent sampling. GLONASS was OFF. Worn on the right arm in the correct position.

Here I did the bridge again. But this time had the Suunto 9 on 60 second mode to see if that improved things.

The ULTRA (Blue this time) is clearly wrong so let’s remove it from the picture to get this

This time the precise route that I took was slightly different to the previous time but still taking in all the same hazards in the same order. The Red Suunto 9 track, this time, is overall about as good as the 935 which is recording with greater frequency.

A VERY tentative conclusion here (sample size 1) would be that the Suunto 9 might be better on once-per 60 second mode in urban areas.

My Fourth Run

GREEN: Garmin FR935: This is recording at 1-second intervals with GPS only. Worn on the right arm on the underside. Wearing on the underside goes some way to explain the ‘alright’ track – but wearing it like that avoids damaging two adjacent watches. That’s why I did it.
RED Suunto 9: This is in ENDURANCE mode sampling every 60 seconds and there is no GLONASS on the Suunto 9. Worn on the left arm in the correct position.
BLUE: Suunto Spartan Ultra: This is set to ‘OK’ GPS mode only with 60-second intermittent sampling. GLONASS was OFF. Worn on the right arm in the correct position.

This time my intention was to run under fairly dense tree cover. To a degree I did that in my first run but I knew a place with more trees. So here goes

The tree cover is only relevent in that it might affect the ability of the Suunto to easily get a fix when it tries once every 60 seconds to get a fix.

the path was under good tree cover all the way and only gently curved. I think all devices did a good enough job here for the purposes we are talking about.

My Fifth Run

GREEN: Garmin FR935: This is recording at 1-second intervals with GPS only. Worn on the right arm on the underside. Wearing on the underside goes some way to explain the ‘alright’ track – but wearing it like that avoids damaging two adjacent watches. That’s why I did it.
RED Suunto 9: This is in ENDURANCE mode sampling every 60 seconds and there is no GLONASS on the Suunto 9. Worn on the left arm in the correct position.
BLUE: Suunto Spartan Ultra: This is set to ‘OK’ GPS mode only with 60-second intermittent sampling. GLONASS was OFF. Worn on the right arm in the correct position.

Let’s remove the ULTRA again and we get this as we zoom in

The squiggly bits are where I am going up and down a small hill that is about 15-20m vertically. It is too steep to do sensible hill reps and the point of mentioning that is only to say that the run DOWN is quite jarring. At least it is for me. I was also intentionally swerving unnaturally around trees both going up and down the hill. There was light-to-medium tree cover and some open spaces.

I would say this was a reasonable representation of aspects of a trail run and the Suunto 9 does a pretty good job in once per 60 second mode (Endurance).

Sixth Run

Blue: Garmin FR935: This is recording at 1-second intervals with GPS only. Worn on the left arm on the underside. Wearing on the underside should normally degrade GPS quality – but wearing it like that avoids damaging two adjacent watches. That’s why I did it.
RED Suunto 9: This is in ENDURANCE mode sampling every 60 seconds and there is no GLONASS on the Suunto 9. Worn on the left arm in the correct position.

I found somewhere slightly new to run. So I was very excited about this one. There is a thrid device but I can’t yet show it. the Blue is the Garmin 935 and the CLOCKWISE track is near enough correct. the left two thrids of the track is under tree cover and a notable amount of the right thrid is running in 1m wide alley ways. Ie the former is difficult GPS positioning and the latter is impossible.

Interesting to note that this was my first ever run with GPS firmware v4.40 on the 935 and it looks a bit better than I expected.

On the first bend on the river the Suunto 9 presumably can’t properly get a GPS fix and then notably strays off the true course. Once it gets to the top right it soon pick up a signal when more in the open. The performance around the alley-ways is surprisingly good and I suppose the reutrn leg is alright.

suunto 9 red, Garmin 935 Blue

Suunto 9 red, Garmin 935 Blue

 

Summary

You will, no doubt, draw your own conclusions. More work needs to be done.

I specifically tried to break FusedTrack with these runs. Gradients, sharp turns, uneven ground, tree cover, buildings, tunnels, underpasses are all relevant to some degree.

FusedTrack, when I first used it, seemed pretty amazing. Even in once per 120 second mode (ULTRA). However my one bad experience with that (Run 2) must make us inject an element of caution into the accepting the accuracy of a GPS track from ULTRA mode. However, so far, I’ve not managed to break FusedTrack in ENDURANCE mode.

 

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Rui Pereira
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Rui Pereira

I’m curious, did you check what is the average difference in total distance from the 935 and the S9 in endurance mode?

Paul
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Paul

Would be interested in Spartan Ultra on best against 60 sec fused track on S9