humon hex – first thoughts

Humon Hex ReviewOK. OK. I know. I t’s taken me a long time to get around to the Humon Hex.

 

This is NOT a review of the Humon Hex – just a quick look for now.

Background

I had a brief love affair with the Moxy and BSX Insight. Well, at least the thought of using muscle oxygen in training was tantalising. To me Moxy seems more suited as a lab-based product rather than a daily training tool for the masses and BSX Insight, well, you know the story.

Yes the experience with the BSX Insight, which I quite liked as a product at the time, was enough to make me not pursue Humon’s Hex any further than an occasional glance at their site.

And it would have stayed like that were it not for another chance glance at some website, somewhere, that I’ve now forgotten the precise location of. It seemed that Humon’s CIQ data field was nicely colour coded to avoid having to understand too much about muscle oxygen – kinda like Muscle Oxygen For Dummies. That sounded like what I needed. Or at least it overcame one of my concerns about the average Jo (aka me) not really quite understanding what I should be looking for with SmO2.

I had also seen some tweets or a blog post somewhere from @fellrnr saying positive things and I tend to trust what he says.

So we have a) hardware that might actually work and b) some means of average Jo being able to understand and use what the hardware is pumping out.

Now

So I have one. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it. But it will probably involve cycling a fair bit.

I might sneak in a FTP test as I’ve not done one for a while. That’s either going to be the end of this week – or October. #Sigh. But as the tri-season draws to a close, I’m more interested in LT1/AeT. So let’s see how Humon can cope with that.

@Boris ty for your input on AeT, concerns noted.

Perhaps I will look at something along the lines of “Using Muscle Oxygen to maximise the AEROBIC effort for an endurance bike ride” Will SmO2 be a better predictor for my feel of a sustainable aerobic effort? or will I need to triangulate it with what my powermeter (based on FTP) and my heart rate monitor (based on LTHR) to determine what they all say is an aerobic effort?

I can also imagine how, next season, the Humon Hex might help with efforts above LT2 in time trials. But I can’t really see me using it much for running and defiantly not in triathlon/duathlon races.

We shall see. I’m hoping I can motivate myself to up the efforts next year, in support of a quest for duathlon glory as I move up an age group.

What You Get

It’s a wireless charging cradle that’s powered by a micro USB cable and the unit itself. You can see on the reverse side that there is a single red light and an array of what are presumably 4 light receiving sensors (1 of which looks different to the other 3). The underside of the Hex is concave and I’m assuming that the 6 hexagonal raised lines/ridges help keep the unit in place and keep out unwanted light.

Humon Hex Review

The strap is nice quality, comfy and secure and can be threaded (obviously) so that it does not obscure the light paths. At 32g the Hex is hardly noticable.

Humon Hex Review

The power button is recessed and not the easiest to press but on the other hand it is impossible to accidentally press. An illuminated LED means the device is on. Green is recording. Red is NOT recording. Blue/Purple is updating firmware or waiting to update.

I don’t particularly like the wireless chargers, although they are a cool invention (STRYD has one too). But at least the Humon QI Wireless charger makes some attempt to keep the Hex in the correct position when charging, unlike STRYD’s charger. Apparently it can charge up the full 12 hours of battery life in one hour – that’s nice enough for me

The Humon cradle (not the Hex) also allows a USB cable to be ‘daisy-chained’ and plugged into the charger – handy if you are a bit short of USB sockets on your computer.

 

Using It

There is the obligatory smartphone app that also updates firmware (which I used to upgrade to FW v1.9.2). I’d pretty much never take a smartphone when I ride, so the app will only be potentially useful for me when trainer season kicks in around December some time. The app also pairs to a BLE heart rate monitor so I paired up the Polar OH1 as well.

Workout data is also cached on the Hex – up to 64 hours worth.

The smartphone app is basic. Some calibration occurs when you first pair the Hex and the info you get is shown in the indicative (non-workout) screen shots – included to give you the ‘look and feel’. Nice enough but not too insightful. FIT export is possible but in reality most of us will want the data integrated into the FIT file that our Garmin or Wahoo produces ie NOT a fit file just for the SmO2 data from the app.

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The Wahoo pairs up super easily and automatically sticks a muscle oxygen data field onto the display. But it’s just the basic %age number. Fine…if you know what to do with it.

There are two Garmin CIQ data fields (apps) that are supported across a range of the more expensive devices. The Edge 820 and Garmin 935 are both supported, for example. And here are my babies in various stages of readiness for action. The Wahoo is paired as an ANT+ device and we should be able to get multiple, simultaneous ANT+ connections as well as one BLE connection eg to Polar, a smartphone or other proprietary app.

Humon Hex Review

 

Except you will find that if you pair your Hex to a Garmin as a sensor it may or may not pair. Even if it pairs…you don’t want to pair it. The CIQ datafield on the Edge 820 and the Forerunner 935 automatically finds the nearest Hex device, pairs to it and then store the device’s serial number to ensure the correct one is connected to on subsequent attempts. This can be overridden by setting the serial number to ‘0’ in the data field setting on Garmin Express – yep…like this change 621F6168 to ‘0’ and it will search again the next time you start your Garmin.

Humon Hex Review

 

 

The data fields are colour coded by the background to your training Zone. Which is shown in the following slideshow (excuse the picture quality)

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Care needs to be taken that you do not exceed the CIQ data field limit for your device (2 for the 935). If you do then one of the data fields will not work (the last installed one?).

One final point. The range seemed to be good for at least 5m. However the following image shows what happened when I intentionally partly covered the Hex with my hand. ie there was restricted transmission of the data back to the Edge and 935. Interestingly the 935 couldn’t pick up the signal (for an extended period, not just for an instant) but the Edge could. Strongly suggesting that the 935’s antennae is not as good (and this ties in with other, more serious, issues with the similar Fenix 5 and 5S models. Again, apologies for the picture quality.

Humon Hex Review

 

A quick test and the data goes through to Garmin Express courtesy of the FIT file where you can see the forced dropouts – which are NOT NECESSARILY AN ISSUE WITH THE HEX.

Humon Hex Review

Click to view

You will probably be doing more analysis in TP, Golden Cheetah or SportTracks…Garmin Connect is not the place for in-depth analysis. Each of those 3 pieces of software should already support SmO2 data.

Take Out

So everything seems to be in the right place. The basic infrastructure seems to be there to support a seemingly sensibly specified product.

The truth will be in determining if the data is sensed and interpreted correctly. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that as I don’t have my own sports lab but I shall share my experiences later this year in a review. Humon have a series of use-cases on their site which I might go though and try to replicate – for example seeing what happens after I warm up properly vs not warming up at all.

I ‘m also specifically interested in seeing how much day-to-day fatigue is affecting my ability to perform. Just comparing your self to an FTP from a few weeks ago won’t reflect the fatigue you incurred from yesterday. Humon just might give some insights here.

 

Price, Availability and Discounts

The Hex retails directly from the manufacturer for just under $300 (link to humon.io)

If you buy one from that link there is no financial incentive that I receive of any kind. I’ll have a crack at negotiating a discount later in the year for you guys if I like the product. I’ll update this section accordingly.

 

 

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Eli

Have you compared the value with the Moxy? (one on each leg at the same time) I don’t feel like the absolute value is important to be the same, but the trend of the data should stay similar.

I’m sure you know I don’t like the “I’m an authority so blindly trust me” but wonder if you saw this thread where those who never used it like to complain: https://www.facebook.com/groups/XertUsers/permalink/2233860373494767/