Will specialized sports devices, such as bike computers and handheld GPS, soon become a thing of the past? Texas Instruments announced last week their plans to release a chip that packs in seven different radio standards, including GPS, Glonass, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even ANT+, meaning your phone will soon be able to do everything your current sports devices can do and more.
Your smartphone currently offers much of the same functionality as handheld GPS, sports watches, and bike computers, especially when paired together with sport specific apps. The main limiter has been how to deal with sensor accessories like heart rate monitors in order to provide a richer experience. Companies such as Wahoo Fitness have taken an aftermarket approach, but this has largely been a band-aid fix up until this point.
With ANT+ integrated into your phone, your heart rate strap, foot pod, cadence, power, speed, and all the other compatible sensors will automatically communicate with your phone. Developers will be able to take full advantage of the wireless standard functionality, meaning apps will become even more powerful and connected.
I currently use my iPhone, together with the Strava app, when I head out for a ride. I also use my Polar sports watch in order to capture my heart rate and power output, analyzing this performance data against my ride on a completely different site. I would prefer to have my phone pull in all my sensor data, giving me powerful analytic capability in a single spot.
Your smartphone will still run into the limitations associated with lack of cell coverage, but devices such as the DeLorme inReach or SPOT Connect can help you communicate when you head out to remote places on your adventures.
So what do you think- will you turn to your phone more and more as your sports computer of choice or do you prefer to use specialized devices?