The IFA in Berlin has served as the stage upon which Garmin debuted its newest fitness tracker, the Vivosmart 4, in the year 2018. The wearable device has all of the features that have become standard for Garmin’s wearables, plus two new ones: a Pulse Ox sensor and what the company calls Body Battery energy tracking.
The vast majority of people have some level of familiarity with regard to pulse oximetry sensors. Typically, they are worn on the fingertip or earlobe and are responsible for determining the level of oxygen saturation in the body. It wasn’t until quite late that they started appearing on a variety of wristbands, one of which being Garmin’s Fenix 5 Plus. Even though the Vivosmart 4 lets you take measurements whenever you want during the day, Garmin is using the sensor to give you more information about your sleep.
Monitoring the energy stored in one’s Body Battery is an altogether new statistic for Garmin’s line of wearables. It was initially introduced on the Suunto Fitness 3 sports watch, where it was powered by Firstbeat Analytics. The feature provides a way to monitor stress around the clock to a whole new level. Its purpose is to assist individuals in making better choices regarding their exercise, rest, and sleeping habits.
Vivosmart 4 analyzes your level of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), the quality of your slumber, and the amount of exercise you do to provide you with an overall picture of the energy levels in your body. On the hardware side, this truly does not present anything new; rather, what is novel is the manner in which the data is employed.
The input that you get via the Body Battery is mostly derived from a study of heart rate variability (HRV). This is the same information that is utilized in Garmin’s well-known All-Day Stress monitoring feature. The monitoring of one’s sleep has been incorporated into the equation.
There is a Work Load measure available on select high-end sports watches manufactured by Garmin. And despite the fact that it has something to say about the effect that your actions have on your body, that is the extent of the parallels. In a word, the idea behind the Body Battery concept is to put the physiological stress and the influence of physical exercise into the framework of recovery periods and the regenerative capacity of sleep. This is done in order to examine how these three factors interact with one another. The Work Load measure is simply one piece of the puzzle that needs to be put together.
Your body will have less energy if you combine stress with physical activity. You receive a boost from times of rest as well as from sleep. All of this is taken into consideration by the wearable device so that it can inform you when your activity levels are at their peak. The meter has a range of 0 to 100, which allows you to quickly determine when to exert maximum effort and when to take a break. A larger number implies that you are prepared to move on, while a smaller number implies that you may require some time to relax on the couch.
It is important to emphasize that maintaining a high level of your energy resources at all times is not definitely a desirable thing to do. Both mental and physical strain is necessary for the process of making your body more resilient. But if you do this for an excessively extended period of time, you could be doing yourself a disservice. To add insult to injury, if you are training, you put yourself in danger of becoming hurt.
Even if we can’t avoid stress and staying active is necessary for our health, we still need to make sure that we give ourselves enough time to recover afterwards. A strenuous workout could leave you exhausted for a short amount of time, but excessive stress that is maintained for a longer period of time might have a significant cumulative effect. With the help of this new metric, you’ll be able to schedule your day so that you make the most of both your active and passive periods.
Aki Pulkkinen, who is in charge of consumer technology at Firstbeat, says, “The degree of benefit you get from a challenging workout, your efficiency at work, and your personal well-being all have the same theme.”
Because we are human, our physiological resources are finite, and our ability to make the most of the energy we do have is directly related to how successful we are. Body Battery gives you feedback that helps you direct your efforts so that you can reach your full potential.
This appears to be a feature that could prove to be quite beneficial, and Firstbeat anticipates that, in the future, this will become a particularly appealing point of differentiation for Garmin products. It will be interesting to see whether the metric gets added to any of the already existing Garmin wearables, given that there really is nothing new on the hardware aspect of things. We surely do hope that it is.