Garmin Adds Optical Heart Rate Sensor

Garmin Forerunner 225

For the new Forerunner 225, Garmin teamed up with Mio Global to integrate an optical heart rate sensor. Much like the Mio Alpha and Link, you can now thankfully ditch the heart rate strap when heading out on your next run.

The Forerunner 225 is officially Garmin’s first GPS running watch to measure heart rate from your wrist. A built-in optical sensor shines light into your skin and measures the amount of light returned. Because there are slight changes as blood pumps through your wrist, the sensor detects those changes and uses an advanced filtering process to supposedly determine reliable and accurate heart rate data (the actual reliability of optical sensors remains up for debate). A light seal on the back of the watch blocks out ambient light to further help proper heart rate detection.

In terms of other features, you can think of the new GPS watch as a Forerunner 15 and a Forerunner 220 combined, with the addition of the wrist-based heart rate. A colorful graphic interface shows your heart rate zone and beats per minute at a glance–grey, blue, green, orange, and red areas on the gauge represent the warm-up, easy, aerobic, threshold, or maximum heart rate zones. These zones are preset based on your age-based max heart rate estimate but can also be customized directly on the watch or in Garmin Connect.

A built-in accelerometer provides distance and pace data for when you are running indoors on a treadmill–no foot pod required. To help keep you active between workouts, the watch doubles as an activity tracker counting your steps, calories, and distance. A move bar with vibration alert reminds you when you have been sitting too long and a sleep monitor ensures you are getting ample rest for recovery.

Water resistant to 50 meters, the Forerunner 225 claims up to four weeks battery life in watch mode with activity tracking and seven to ten hours with the GPS and wrist heart rate active.

The Forerunner retails for $299.99 and is available for pre-order from Garmin now.

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