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I was looking at Polar’s TEAM solutions and stumbled across some new (to me) heart rate monitors. In themselves, they are probably not too relevant to most people who read this blog BUT the capabilities of the team solution’s HRM might suggest some of the functionality that Polar might introduce within the next 6 months or so IF they introduce a new run/ti watch.
Polar introduced the current top-end H10 HRM back in early 2017. At the same time there were announcements around Polar’s team solutions products.
The H10 is a great product. Yet it can do ‘stuff’ that’s not fully exploited by, for example, the V800. Its caching only works with the Polar BEAT app and the onboard motion sensor isn’t used AFAIK.
Then I stumbled across the Polar H1 (not the H7 misspelt). The H1 is the same as the H10 but without Bluetooth. So it’s good for some gym users wanting to link to some gym equipment.
Polar also do hard strap chest straps for gym and non-gym use as wel as, of course, the optical arm band HRM ie the OH1. I actually use the OH1 quite a lot for providing an extra set of HR data to compare against other devices. I deliberately NEVER pair it to any watch to avoid its BLE-only being incorrectly picked up and duplicated. It syncs nicely enough to FLOW and is as accurate as the Scosche equivalent. The only issues I have with the OH1 is the strap, which could do with being a bit wider, and the battery which seems to discharge over ‘N’ days, when not in use.
The existence of the H1 tells me that Polar must be (obviously) very carefully looking at the precise HR needs of different segments of the ‘sports’ market. Heart Rate has always been Polar’s ‘thing’.
Polar Team Pro Sensor
You’ve already seen a picture of the Team Pro sensor, above. Here are the specs and then some commentary on the highlighted sections which I’ve pulled from the Polar Team section on the site (link to: Polar.com)
- Integrated GPS, 10Hz
- MEMS motion sensor, 200Hz (Accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass)
- Memory up to 65 hours
- Rechargeable 390 mAh lithium polymer battery
- Battery duration up to 10 hours
- Recharging (from empty to full) 3 hours
- Sensor dimensions: 36 mm (1.42 in) x 68 mm (2.68 in) x 13 mm (0.51 in)
- Weight: 39 grams (1.38 oz)
- Water resistant: up to 30 m
- Operating temperature: -10 °C to +45 °C (14 °F to 113 °F)
- Sensor materials: ABS, ABS + 30% GF, PC, stainless steel
- LED display with information of player number, data sync and battery
- Bluetooth Smart
- Range Up to 200 meters
- Polar Team Pro red soft strap compatible
- Polar Team Pro Shirt compatible
- Updatable firmware
Hopefully, you can see where the product is headed for team sports?
- It’s not too safe to wear a wrist watch in (semi-) contact sports (hence HRM)
- Yet motion data is required including accelerations and total distances travelled (GPS, accelerometer)
- The players are not going to be interested in their data but the coach will be. So a means of collating every member’s data is required (via BLE to a central store)
- Longer battery durations are not required (probably usually only 2-3 hours, but the battery will need to cover the power consumption demands of a GPS chip)
- The coach will keep the HRMs (where they can be recharged at lunchtime or overnight, quick recharge time)
- The coach needs to quickly and easily give the right HRM to the right player (LED display)
- Polar has good training load/recovery algorithms and my understanding from a separate conversation with Firstbeat on the same subject (Firstbeat is a competitor in this sphere) is that in Team sports the normal training load algorithms for endurance athletes need modifying to take into account the sprints that team players frequently perform (hence I imagine the Polar device will use the gps and/or accelerometer)
- Coaches may need to review field positions throughout matches or training (hence the GPS…but will it have the accuracy???)
The innards of the Team Pro solution are likely to be very similar to the H10 and it’s likely that the H10 has the accelerometer, although probably not the GPS. The strap of the Team PRO HRM looks identical to the one on the H10.
A New V800 ?
I’ve covered this elsewhere, so I’m not going to dwell in too much detail on the speculation/knowledge surrounding any new V800.
But the key issue for how the V800 currently handles HR to me is to look at what is missing and what doesn’t quite work.
- Polar’s 5KHz transmission DOES work when underwater. However it can and does have dropouts from time-to-time. Garmin’s HRM-RUN/TRI/SWIM solution is slightly better in the respect that cached data can be retrieved at the end of the workout. I think even in non-swim sessions the supported Garmin watches will query the HRM’s cache to fill any periods where no HR data is found.
- So Polar have the potential of a multi-band solution that can both display live HRM underwater (Garmin can’t) and retrieve data at the end of the workout (Garmin can, Polar only can on the Polar BEAT app)
- Polar does not currently provide any running dynamics data other than cadence. Running Dynamics data may well be possible with the existing accelerometer in the H10. I would assume this is probably being worked on, it’s probably a big job if you think of all the new on-watch display metrics and metrics on FLOW that need to be integrated into the overall solution. I’m NOT convinced that Polar NEED to add this functionality – it’s one of those ‘nice to have’ set of data that people quite like the sounds of but eventually never really use in any great numbers (in my opinion). BUT it is one of those sets of features whose omission may well sway a potential purchaser to another, competing product.
In a nutshell: Polar probably have the hardware capability NOW (or even in 2017) to introduce running dynamics and improved HR caching.
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