Garmin connectGPT – An AI Chatbot in Connect IQ?
Is it possible we will get chatGPT on Garmin Connect IQ in 2024?
I’ll elaborate in a minute but the answer is “Maybe”.
Even if it becomes possible for 3rd party developers to integrate AI capabilities when new CIQ 7 features are announced in October later this year, the reality will probably be a big letdown. It certainly was for me when I used an equivalent Apple Watch version of chatGPT.
Thank You: Eric Kutter for your thoughts
An Overview of How it might Work for the watch owner
Press a watchface complication and launch the AI chatbot widget in Connect IQ. Next, ask the widget either a verbal or written question.
Some secret sauce is stirred before the scrollable response appears on the screen. Perhaps you could listen to the response either through your connected earbuds or the watch’s speaker.
Eagle-eyed readers may have already noticed some issues. There’s no on-screen Garmin keyboard at the moment and only very rudimentary ways to enter text and numbers – for example when renaming a sensor or entering a credit card PIN. Furthermore, audio capabilities are limited to a subset of Garmin watches and, unless Garmin improves its LTE capabilities, it cannot give AI responses without your smartphone in range.
However, all is not lost. It’s possible that Garmin is edging towards each of the required features. Let’s go through them one by one.
A CIQ 6 Complication to Launch A Widget
This should be possible as of today. Yay!
Posing Your Query on a Screen Keyboard
This isn’t possible
Posing Your Query via a Microphone
Everything starts to look a little rosier when you consider that the Garmin Venu 2 Plus already has a microphone and the ability for you to ask questions of Siri, Google Assistant and Bixby.
Posing Your query without a smartphone
Garmin does already support LTE access to the internet without the presence of a smartphone
Getting Your response via a speaker
Again Venu 2 Plus can already do this.
Getting Your response as text on your smartphone
This happens already and also prompts the question as to why you didn’t use the smartphone in the first place.
The Problems & Their Degree of Insurmountability
I suspect that Garmin has little motivation to introduce such a difficult and limited feature as an on-screen keyboard. It would NOT be especially useful anywhere else in the Garmin Fenix/Forerunner/Edge ecosystem.
Furthermore, my understanding is that the Venu 2+ has dumb audio abilities and merely acts as a pass-through device to your smartphone. All the voice assistant cleverness happens on the smartphone, not on the Venu 2+. Simply put, Siri and similar voice assistants are not on the Venu 2+, but rather on your phone.
Regarding LTE or WiFi, Garmin currently cannot use Siri and Bixby over LTE because it’s their services on the smartphone that are used. So even if LTE or WiFi connectivity were added for other features, Garmin would still need to have some form of natural language processing service (voice-to-text) on the watch to use LTE or WiFi. I imagine this would be a significant undertaking.
An Overview of How it might Work for a developer
That was all a bit doom and gloom.
I can, however, see a solution where an AI feature on your smartphone is triggered in a similar way to how the voice assistants currently work on the Venu 2+. Perhaps Garmin would need to do this in-house or perhaps CIQ 7 will allow some access to 3rd party developers?
What Customer Problem is Solved?
It seems to me that generic chat AI on a Garmin watch will struggle to initially be anything more than another flavour of Siri or Bixby. If that’s the case, why not continue to use Siri or Bixby? And why not use them on your smartphone when that must also be nearby?
Putting that to one side, if some form of AI service was made available to CIQ developers then you can be certain that many unexpectedly clever uses would be made of it.
What Was The Point Of This Article?
This article was prompted by the Apple Watch‘s ability to enable developers to deliver advanced smart features such as those incorporating AI. Garmin’s weaknesses at competing in this area are laid bare and this has ramifications for the company’s future.
The article was also prompted by the emergence of chatGPT and AI as a more general mode of interaction between humans and technology. ChatGPT has become widely known in early 2023 and consumer AI will snowball in months and years to come. AI is certain to create a new wave of innovation, and the question arises, “Where is Garmin on this new wave of innovation?“. Garmin doesn’t even have AI training plans to recommend workouts it knows you or your peers typically respond well to (Daily Workout Suggestions border on being guesses).
Initially, I thought that Garmin would be pretty close to allowing CIQ developers to achieve what I had in mind. However, my research helped me realize that Garmin is, in reality, quite a few steps away from being able to do this themselves, let alone allowing third parties to participate.
That said, the Venu 2+ will undoubtedly become smarter in future iterations of the Venu line, and we may see Garmin adding consumer-grade Chat AI albeit driven by a smartphone engine rather than one on the watch. This may attract some media attention and lead to some customer purchases, but ultimately, the bottom line is its impact on the watch owner, the “So what?” factor. In the iOS world, for example, Garmin is unlikely to be able to link to Apple FindMy, add a calendar or to-do items verbally, or control smart home devices. Maybe some of that will become possible, maybe some of it won’t, but then remember that Garmin has to repeat everything it gets to work on iOS on Android as well. The likely reality is that Garmin won’t be able to make meaningful progress in becoming much more than a SMART sports watch than it currently is. Wear OS and Apple Watch will slowly creep into a more profitable future without Garmin.
Thoughts welcomed below
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