FIT-C Board Member Paul Lockington attends Ant+ Symposium

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The ANT+ Alliance gathers once annually for updates, networking, announcements. This year held in the beautiful Canadian Rockies resort town of Banff.

·       The Fitness industry will be particularly interested in the on-going theme of enhancements to group fitness applications.

·       The Technical working group for Heart rate has agreed to broaden the scope of the device profile by including additional information in the packet messages so that those that produce heart rate monitors can continue to use that standard messaging format to send personal information that can be captured by a heart rate monitor. This creates added value for the monitor and add interesting data to the display devices – consoles/computers

·       The silicone chip providers and the module manufacturers agreed that modifications to that “virtual pipe” that carries that information would be provided so that this information would flow easily. They also plan to make the pairing process easier, faster and more reliable by including Near Field protocols with the Bluetooth and ANT+ protocols already in the modules.

·       IBM was there to showcase their sponsored Race-across-America rider and the multiple sensor data capturing system they used to monitor and improve his performance. They were also talking about data capture and management. A useful piece of information for club managers/owners who are trying to manage the membership.

·       Google was speaking on the IoT and their move into the hardware arena. Doug got the opportunity to expand on the brief announcement from the day before of the new Google phone.

·       Ray Maker gave his annual review of the Sports Electronic industry. A couple of very interesting insights.

A few years ago with the introduction of the smart phone, the word on the street was that this would kill the sport watch business. Garmin shares fell – amongst others. But the smart watch was born from the announcement and wrist top displays have become an integral part of both athletics and recreational data collection. More sales with higher margins for the sports watch providers. Similarly the more recent introduction of the wrist based optical heart rate sensor was touted to render extinct the chest belt, but instead, new sensory information that can be captured by the chest belt has made that piece more valuable and again margins are higher and volumes are beginning to recover to previous levels.

·       The integration of personal sensors with fitness equipment had a significant focus. Many personal metrics are now available at commercially viable prices and a fitness console that can capture this type of information will be of significant interest to the average consumer. For example the heart rate message can now also carry running dynamic info and hydration and respiration in the same message packet. Those with diabetes who use a real-time glucose monitor can see their glucose current levels on an enabled display directly in front of them.

Getting heart rate info integrated with treadmill incline and speed can offer new and simple feedback on fitness levels that is easy for the user to understand.

·       Precor attended and made a point of telling anyone interested that they were moving to enable four models right away and move the multi-protocol console to the rest of their line as new models come on or older ones were updated.

·       Concept2 also a return attendee with real interest in the fitness controls applications as well as the enhancement to the heart rate monitor profile.

·       The clubs were represented by Life-Time, My-Zone and Orangetheory. These organisations staying a little ahead of the information curve by their active participation.

·       Garmin presented the newest version of Connect IQ which allows application providers to build to their smart watch platforms.  Many premium clubs already have an App on Garmin Connect. They showcased an example of a small lock company that has built an app that will allow your Garmin watch to open their Bike lock/pad lock with the watch. Is it such a big leap to think that club locker rooms or clubs themselves could have security controls with a smart watch? Pair your locker to your watch as you leave the change room and there is no need for a key or a memorised combination. The same watch you use to capture your cardio experience will open your locker when youare done.

 

It is a small conference of interested companies/people. Some start-ups, some established, all with a mutual understanding that common platforms and standards allow for a better user experience and therefore a stronger market. Everyone rises on the common tides. Real value and good fun to be had by all that actively attend.