Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nike+SportWatch GPS Technical details from GPS Passion

Found this interesting article from GPS Passion dated 1/29/11. It is based on a discussion the author had with the TomTom product manager at the CES introduction of the Nike+SportWatch GPS. TomTom provides the GPS technology for the SportsWatch.

Some highlights:

  • "Powered by a SiRFstarIV GPS chip like Garmin's Forerunner 110/210 launched in April 2010. As a result a SiRFstarIII type level of performance should be maintained in spite of a smaller form factor (couldn't see an antenna) with improved battery life.
  • The battery life without GPS is rated at 40 days, a record, the Forerunner 405 was 15 days and the FR110 3 weeks. In continuous GPS use it should reach 9 hours, like on the Garmin watches.
  • The training sessions recorded on the watch can be analyzed on the site (already used for the iPhone application) with automatic "improvement" of the GPS tracks particularly by using the pace sensor inside the Nike+ shoes if available. This results in smoother tracks that are more pleasant to review and truer to the actual track, than the raw GPS track that can "jump around" quite a bit, especially in dense urban environments."
This last point is the most interesting one. I have not yet been able to confirm in my testing that the combination of foot sensor and GPS improves the track. Likely I have not done enough miles with the combination or this feature is not yet activated. We do know based on a post by Nike that the foot sensor is calibrated by the GPS. Does the opposite also happen, the GPS track is improved when signal is low by the foot sensor? Very cool if it in fact does. 

Here are the specs per TomTom site, a bit stronger on the non GPS use at 50 days and 8 hours of continuous use with GPS and sensor going. I hope they do not use the same kind of "Smart" sampling Garmin uses to achieve this as it samples at longer intervals than the 1 second option which will only get 3-4 hours of use out of a Garmin 205.

Nike+SportsWatch Specs per TomTom

Does anyone have experience with the accuracy of the Garmin Forerunner 110/210 which shares the same smaller form factor GPS chipset with the Nike+? I assume newer Garmin 205, 305, 405, 410 have the SIRFstarIII chipset.

See my other posts on the Nike+SportsWatch GPS: First Review

1 comment:

Paleo Runner said...

My Garmin FR110 has been fairly accurate except is urban setting. For example in Stockholm Marathon 2010, it added about half a mile to the distance. The map at
shows how the tunnel and tall buildings in the west side of the course caused the GPS to lose satellites for a moment, resulting in wild 'panic jumps' on the GPS track. The east side with nice parks and lower buildings were much more accurate.

There seemed to be similar issues with all GPS devices, no matter which chipset or brand. Many runners were frustrated with the poor and misleading measurements of their devices. I for one am not going to use my FR110 in Stockholm next month.

If Nike Sportwatch with footpod performs like advertised, I'm sure they would be a lot of interested customers. Well it seems to be sold out anyway at the moment, but maybe in the future they could market it as 'The Only Reliable Stockholm Marathon GPS' or something like that?