Will Apple Watch make fitness trackers and heart rate monitors obsolete?

RecAppleholic

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 16, 2014
6
0
I recently got a fancy Garmin heart rate monitor with a chest band and a built in GPS in the watch by my girlfriend. Being the jerk that I am I thanked her, but made her aware that for about the same amount we could get a smart watch with a much broader usage. I actually convinced her to return the watch and get the money back. I feel a little ashamed and I am not sure if I did the right thing. Can I trust a smart watch for workout?

Trying to do som research about the accuracy of the Apple Watch´s heart rate function I ended up summing it up in a blog post.

What do you think? Has Apple again nailed a technology that others struggle with?
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,283
4,265
Atlanta
....Can I trust a smart watch for workout?


...What do you think? Has Apple again nailed a technology that others struggle with?
Depends, are you a weekend warrior or really into running? As of now the jury is still out on optical HR monitors. Most don't work well or at all if moving. Apple may have nailed the sensor the way they did the Finger print reader but we will have to wait to see.

Also aWatch gen 1 is basic to a runner. For instance with a Garmin HRM you get dynamics like: Cadence, Vertical Oscillation, Stride length and Ground Contact Time to name a couple.

I intend to use both through gen 1 and will see if gen 2 has enough accuracy and added features to completely replace a running watch.
 

Cashmonee

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2006
1,198
876
Not yet. Maybe in a few generations, but Apple has a long way to go to unseat dedicated sport watches.

Comparing to my Garmin fenix 2, the :apple:Watch is kind of a joke for the intended purposes of multi-sport athletes. For example, heart rate is going to be more accurate with a strap. Add to that, the Garmin strap has an accelerometer that helps detect your cadence. It will also work with ANT+ sensors on your bike. It has barometer to help warn of inclement weather for hikers. You can swim with it. The battery is measured from 14+ hours to weeks depending on usage. Doesn't need a cellphone to fully take advantage of all it's features.

For sports, the :apple:Watch has a very long way to go before it really competes with what's being put out by Garmin, Polar, Suunto, and Timex. It's actually a little laughable at this point that they are even marketing it as a sports watch in the $400ish price level. That pits them against the top-tier or second-tier models of all the major brands, where they simply can't compete.
 

RecAppleholic

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 16, 2014
6
0
You have a point, but I guess many of us is satisfied with a reliable and pretty valid heart rate reading. Does anyone know is Apple has sensors that differ greatly from what is already on the market?

The price is higher, but I think I prefer one device that could both help my training and do smart watch things (which I a not sure why I need yet, but I also said that at the dawning of smart phones, an mobile phones before that again.)
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,283
4,265
Atlanta
...Does anyone know is Apple has sensors that differ greatly from what is already on the market..
Do you mean compared to other optical based HR sensors? If so there is no way to know until Apple releases info or probably until test units are available (likely right before launch).

EKG is a long proven method and at this point optical is not near as accurate or reliable.
 

spriter

macrumors 65816
May 13, 2004
1,460
585
Off the top of my head this is what iWatch (and others) lack:

Standalone GPS
Speed/cadence
Power meter compatibility
Waterproofing (swimming)
Battery life
HRM accuracy?

These are pretty standard. Most so-called smart watches are aimed at / only good enough for basic exercise.

The iWatch Sport betrays the name entirely. It implies more sport-oriented features like the list above. Reality is it's just got a cheap, colorful rubber strap and non-sapphire screen. No funtional differentiation at all for moderate-serious sport enthusiasts.

I wouldn't use it to run as I'd need to take my phone with me and the same goes for cycling where it isnt ANT+ compatible.
 

Symtex

macrumors 6502a
Jan 27, 2005
515
2
No way in hell an optical HRM will replace the accuracy of an HRM strap you wear on your chest. When I run with my Ambit watch, I don't have to carry a phone with me.
 

Cashmonee

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2006
1,198
876
You have a point, but I guess many of us is satisfied with a reliable and pretty valid heart rate reading. Does anyone know is Apple has sensors that differ greatly from what is already on the market?

The price is higher, but I think I prefer one device that could both help my training and do smart watch things (which I a not sure why I need yet, but I also said that at the dawning of smart phones, an mobile phones before that again.)
Problem is, pretty valid doesn't really cut it. You use heart rate to help with training. If it isn't accurate, it can't help. I can't train in Zone 3 if the watch can't accurately tell what my heart rate is.
 

bearda

macrumors 6502
Dec 2, 2005
459
76
Roanoke, VA
I think the Apple Watch may replace basic fitness trackers like the Fitbit or Jawbone that are glorified pedometers, but it seems like the really targeted fitness trackers don't have anything to worry about.
 

RecAppleholic

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 16, 2014
6
0
Problem is, pretty valid doesn't really cut it. You use heart rate to help with training. If it isn't accurate, it can't help. I can't train in Zone 3 if the watch can't accurately tell what my heart rate is.
I get it. If you are an athlete you probably want a spot on heart rate reading (and even measure it under water?!) But for people who calculate their max heart rate by their age and never actually measure it properly, reliability is much more important than validity.

If the heart rate only reads half the time or you have to stop to see it, then my money would be wasted. But if it is off by a few percent all the time, then it is fine by me. I need to figure out if the Apple Watch´s sensors are better then Gear Fit and competitors. Or is Mio Alpha the better bet if you prefer to bring a phone not a chest strap?
 

Cashmonee

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2006
1,198
876
I get it. If you are an athlete you probably want a spot on heart rate reading (and even measure it under water?!) But for people who calculate their max heart rate by their age and never actually measure it properly, reliability is much more important than validity.

If the heart rate only reads half the time or you have to stop to see it, then my money would be wasted. But if it is off by a few percent all the time, then it is fine by me. I need to figure out if the Apple Watch´s sensors are better then Gear Fit and competitors. Or is Mio Alpha the better bet if you prefer to bring a phone not a chest strap?
I agree. But I wonder what you are doing with heart rate if it isn't accurate. I mean, how are you fitting it in your workout? For example, I will be going on a run this morning where I want my rate between 145 and 162 bpm, and I need my fenix 2 to tell me when it isn't. Are optical sensors accurate enough for that?
 

SHNXX

macrumors 68000
Oct 2, 2013
1,835
629
I agree. But I wonder what you are doing with heart rate if it isn't accurate. I mean, how are you fitting it in your workout? For example, I will be going on a run this morning where I want my rate between 145 and 162 bpm, and I need my fenix 2 to tell me when it isn't. Are optical sensors accurate enough for that?

I imagine you would be in the minority.

I mean most people currently run and exercise without any monitors.
Apple watch will be the first one that reports these measurements for most.
I would imagine that people like yourself will not be satisfied with any apple monitors for probably a very long time, possibly never since optical sensors are inherently flawed.
 

RecAppleholic

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 16, 2014
6
0
I agree. But I wonder what you are doing with heart rate if it isn't accurate. I mean, how are you fitting it in your workout? For example, I will be going on a run this morning where I want my rate between 145 and 162 bpm, and I need my fenix 2 to tell me when it isn't. Are optical sensors accurate enough for that?
My question is: would Apple dare to put out a product that did not read you heart rate accurate enough? It seems like they are going for one infrared and one visible light sensor. Since cameras can detect subtle changes in skin color when your heart beats, I would imagine it could work ok if the technology has matured enough.

The exercise advise on keeping for example between 65-75% of your max heart rate probably already is based on scientific measurements from a large sample, and does not nessesarily apply to you. So if your body does not respond exactly as the average of the sample, then it is not that important if your heart rate reads 142, 145 or 148. If the heart rate monitor misses on your max pulse though, that would be bad for those who train way up there. But again I think that would be a problem for athletes, not most of us.
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,283
4,265
Atlanta
...The exercise advise on keeping for example between 65-75% of your max heart rate probably already is based on scientific measurements from a large sample, and does not nessesarily apply to you. So if your body does not respond exactly as the average of the sample, then it is not that important if your heart rate reads 142, 145 or 148. If the heart rate monitor misses on your max pulse though, that would be bad for those who train way up there. But again I think that would be a problem for athletes, not most of us.
Many athletes know their MHR. You can take a maximal stress test to ascertain yours. Also any athlete who keeps careful records will know their MHR. I always know what zone I'm in and so accustomed I can almost always guess without even looking. I have been keeping continues records since 2004.

 
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