Outdoors + Tech newsletter – May 17, 2020

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 17, 2020



G-SHOCK to the Heart: A Fitness Watch Gets Rugged

GearJunkie, Casio from

G-SHOCK watches have a long history of affordable durability. But while all have a deep well of features, they have never had the ability to monitor the wearer’s heart rate — until now.

This spring, G-SHOCK launches the GBDH1000, a watch that “combines toughness with functions for workouts.” This is what G-SHOCK wants you to know.

Upcoming smartwatches 2020: Exciting devices still to be released

Wareable (UK), James Stables from

This year is shaping up to be massive for upcoming smartwatches, with a huge array of new devices confirmed.

Some of the most eagerly anticipated wearables are from a new Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung will arrive at some point in 2020. We’ve got confirmed releases from Chinese budget brands such as Xiaomi, Amazfit and Oppo, but also Swiss watch manufacturers like Montblanc and a brand new Tag Heuer Connected.

Polar Grit X vs Polar Vantage V: The multi-tester verdict on which running watch is best

YouTube, The Run Testers from

The Polar Grit X is the company’s first watch with ultra trail endurance and adventure aspirations. But with a very similar feature set to its predecessor, the Polar Vantage and a recommended price tag that’s cheaper, it’s inevitably going to draw comparisons. So which one should you buy? [video, 10:11]

non-wrist wearable

Can pulse oximeters detect coronavirus? How they work and more

CNET, Dale Smith from

Although many doctors report that patients with COVID-19 are presenting with dangerously low blood oxygen levels, COVID-19 isn’t the only disease that can cause such a problem. Chronic lung diseases, like COPD, asthma and other non-COVID-19 lung infections can also result in a low oxygen count.

A low oxygen reading by itself is not enough to diagnose COVID-19, but your doctor would want to know about it, especially if you notice the level decreasing over time. And if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, your doctor may want you to monitor your oxygen level to determine whether your condition is worsening or improving.

Who Makes the Best Running Power Meter?

Outside Online, Alex Hutchinson from

… My article in the print magazine focused on how the latest Stryd devices can now measure and account for wind conditions, which is a pretty cool new feature that doesn’t make it into this study. The other devices and algorithms continue to evolve too, so this isn’t the final word on the topic. But for now, if you’re in the market for a running power device—and if what you really mean by that is a consistently repeatable estimate of oxygen consumption—this data suggests that Stryd is your best bet.

FORM Swim Goggles Adds Openwater Swimming with Garmin & Apple Watches

Ray Maker, DC Rainmaker blog from

FORM, maker of the heads-up display swim goggles, announced that it’s partnering with Garmin and Apple to bring openwater swim support to their goggles this summer, if you’ve got a compatible Garmin or Apple Watch. The move is notable because some saw FORM as stepping on Garmin’s toes a bit, given that both companies make devices to track your swim data in the pool (the same could be said about Apple, but likely to a lesser extent).


Pushup Dojo – AI powered exercise tracker, workout analytics, leaderboard

Product Hunt from

Pushup Dojo is not your ordinary workout app. Using state-of-the-art artificial intelligence algorithms running on your smartphone camera, we automatically track your reps, analyse your workout intensity, and provide deep insights about your workout.

Garmin Launches Strava & Komoot Route Sync: Works on devices a decade old

Ray Maker, DC Rainmaker blog from

… Garmin has released a new API that allows partners (namely, websites/platforms) to push routes straight to your Garmin, with no additional work for you. The first two partners launching today are Strava and Komoot, and from here forward, anytime you create a route and star/favorite it on Strava (or add it to your Komoot tours), it’ll automatically show up on your Garmin. No frustrating half-baked Strava Connect IQ app to deal with, or clunky pairing steps. In other words, it’s basically just like what Wahoo rolled out four years ago.

But what’s cool here is that you don’t need some fancy new Garmin for this. Anything that supports .FIT file courses will work, and the line in the sand there seems to be since roughly 2009. So for example, the Edge 500 (old school review alert!!!) or Edge 800 will work with this. Whereas the 2007-based Forerunner 305 (even older alert!) doesn’t quite make the cut since it doesn’t support .FIT files (I tried).

Strava explained: Tips for using Strava to supercharge your workouts

Wareable (UK), Michael Sawh from

… Whether you’re planning to use Strava for the first time or you want to discover the features that hide behind its premium Strava Summit subscription, we’ve pulled together our top tips to get the most out of the platform with your wearables and more.


Best air mattress for 2020: SoundAsleep, REI and more compared

CNET, Justin Jaffe from

We inflated and slept on some of the most popular air mattress models, from Intex, Coleman, King Koil and more. Here’s what we learned.

The Best Trail Running Shoes for Women in 2020

GearJunkie, Mallory Paige from

… From sloppy trails of the American South to rocky peaks of the Pacific Northwest, we’ve spent the past 6 months running, hiking, and testing to find the best trail running shoes for women. While testing, we focused on choosing a variety of shoe styles to fit each runner’s needs and feet — because the shoe each trail runner needs is unique as the trails they run.

This article focuses on the best women’s trail running shoes. In separate articles, we have also outlined the best women’s road running shoes and the best winter running shoes.

The Best Running Shoes for Men in 2020

GearJunkie, Steve Graepel from

… Running is an uncomplicated sport — which is the way it should be. But it all starts with a pair of shoes. This spring, we’ve sifted through the jargon, new releases, and venerable kicks, and ran miles of road and trail to tease out which shoes rise to the top. … And if you’re not sure what’s the right shoe for you, check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article with feedback from the experts.


3 Questions: The rapidly unfolding future of smart fabrics

MIT News from

In an opinion piece published in the journal Matter, members of the Fibers@MIT research group recently laid out a detailed vision for how the rapidly growing field of advanced fibers and fabrics could transform many aspects of our lives. For example, “smart clothing” might continuously monitor temperature, heart rate, and other vital signs, then analyze the data and give warnings of potential health conditions. Headed by Professor Yoel Fink, the group is developing fibers and fabrics with advanced computational properties. MIT News asked PhD student Gabriel Loke, who was the article’s lead author, along with Fink and six others, to elaborate on the team’s outlook.


The Importance of Sleep for Your Body

Discover Magazine, Leslie Nemo from

… Some hormones — the molecules moving around our bloodstream to regulate different biological processes — ride our circadian rhythms mostly for the sake of making us sleepy. Others, however, rise and fall with those sleep-wake cycles even though they have different responsibilities, including regulating our immune systems.

For example, cortisol ebbs and flows on a day-and-night pattern. This hormone plays a role in reining in our immune systems and can dampen the boosted blood flow and pain associated with inflammation. Getting too little sleep can throw off the cortisol rhythm and keep high levels of the hormone going for longer.

Why your sleep and wake cycles affect your mood

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health Blog, Lawrence Epstein and Syed Moin Hassan from

… While the circadian sleep phase typically occurs at night, there are a range of times during which the sleep phase can occur, with some people programmed to sleep from early evening to early morning (known as morning larks), while others stay up late and sleep late (known as night owls). In addition to determining the timing of their sleep, a person’s circadian tendency can also affect their choice of emotional coping skills, such as assertiveness or rationalization, and their predisposition to psychological disorders.

The Psychology Behind Your Long Quarantine Runs

Women's Running, Caitlin Carlson from

There are a lot of obvious explanations for my own mileage increases as well as others’: Many of us have more time since we’re not commuting to work each day (and unfortunately, some have lost jobs altogether). Gyms are closed, meaning our regular weight-lifting routines are on an indefinite hiatus. The pandemic coincided with a warming of the air on the East Coast, making the weather ideal for a long run. It’s also safer these days with fewer cars on the road and less pollution.

But I had a feeling there was something deeper going on, too. So I called sports psychologist Lennie Waite, Ph.D., to get her take. “These days, people crave time outside of their house, and they crave a structured schedule—running is something that can give them both of those things,” Waite says.


Why Road Cyclists Wear Helmets: Part 1,274,321,167

Fit Recovery blog from

My wife, on the fifth anniversary of her last Mother’s Day crash, went down yesterday. Before we go any further, she’s fine though a bit concussed – I went through the protocol last night with her – and very sore. She went down at speed, too. 20+ mph and if not for her helmet, God only knows what her condition would be today. Interestingly, her helmet, a Kask Mojito, shows signs of sliding on the pavement but there were zero torsional injuries (a favorite reason the anti-helmet crowd sites to suggest they shouldn’t be worn – ask a neural surgeon, ER doc, nurse, ambulance tech, firefighter, or Sheriff’s deputy and they’ll have a different opinion, having spent time investigating, shoveling brain off the ground, or trying to put it back in someone’s melon).

Garmin Varia RTL515 and RVR315 Cycling Radar In-Depth Review | DC Rainmaker

Ray Maker, DC Rainmaker blog from

Like clock-work, two years after releasing the last version of the Garmin Varia radar, the company has released its now third generation version. While this new version looks identical from the outside, it’s not internally – sporting new features and compatibility. Oh, and actually: There’s two new radars. The second smaller new unit ditches the taillight in favor of a smaller form factor.

Both the new lights now include Bluetooth Smart connectivity, making it possible to not only see radar information on a new smartphone app, but it also enables 3rd party smartphone support too. At launch that includes RideWithGPS’s app, but will likely be expanded over time as other apps pick up support for it.

Study: Zwift really is much harder than it looks

Velo News from

One key observation was that the riders who are most successful on the road were not necessarily as effective in virtual races.

public lands

From Mountain Peaks to Arid Deserts, Park Reopenings Spur Debate

Bloomberg Politics, Jennifer A Dlouhy from

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park that sprawls across 522,427 acres of North Carolina and Tennessee may seem like the perfect place to practice social distancing.

Yet visitors to its lush, mountainous terrain tend to congregate at well-known spots like Clingmans Dome, where they can stand at the highest point in Tennessee, or Grotto Falls, where they can walk behind a waterfall.

That tendency has park advocates and former employees worrying about its reopening last weekend — and the plan for other national parks to follow in coming weeks at the urging of President Donald Trump — even as coronavirus infections nationwide continue to climb.

“A lot of folks sort of casually say, ‘This is a 300,000-acre park. People can spread out,’” said Kristen Brengel, senior vice president of government affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association. “But we all want to see that arch, that waterfall, that historic site. We all want to see the best features in the parks. But so does everybody else.”

Can You Go Camping in the Middle of a Pandemic?

Milwaukee magazine, Andrea Riley from

… AJ Heil, the program director for Outdoor Pursuits, a recreation group, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee points to the two statements the governor’s office released on recreational services and campgrounds as important guidelines for campgrounds and anyone considering camping to follow, as restrictions are lifted. The statements encourage “social distancing and sanitation practices” to help ensure the safety of those using the grounds.

When deciding if you will go camping, there are three major public players to consider: state parks, county park campgrounds and national forests, along with a fourth option, private campgrounds. The situation is different for each.

Zion reopens, but park offerings remain slim

The Salt Lake Tribune, Brian Maffly from

Zion National Park, southern Utah’s most-visited tourist draw, welcomed back the public Wednesday as the state continues to ease coronavirus restrictions, but many parts of the park remain off-limits and on-site guest services, including campgrounds and the canyon shuttle, are all but nonexistent.

Under its plan for a phased increase in access, the park is open during daylight hours and is restricting cars on the 6-mile-long Zion Canyon scenic drive to 400 vehicles, reflecting the number of parking spaces at its key destinations, such as the Temple of Sinawava and The Grotto.

“As we move forward, the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners will guide our operational approach to examine each facility function and service and ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance,” the park posted on its website.


Artificial chloroplasts turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into organic compounds

Science, Robert F. Service from

Just like mechanics cobble together old engine parts to build a new roadster, synthetic biologists have remade chloroplasts, the engine at the heart of photosynthesis. By combining the light-harvesting machinery of spinach plants with enzymes from nine different organisms, scientists report making an artificial chloroplast that operates outside of cells to harvest sunlight and use the resulting energy to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into energy-rich molecules. The researchers hope their souped-up photosynthesis system might eventually convert CO2 directly into useful chemicals—or help genetically engineered plants absorb up to 10 times the atmospheric CO2 of regular ones.

“[This] is very ambitious,” says Frances Arnold, a chemical engineer at the California Institute of Technology who wasn’t involved in the research. She says the work’s effort to reprogram biology could improve attempts to convert CO2 directly into useful chemicals.

Working up a sweat could power future wearable devices

University of Glasgow, University news from

A new generation of wearable devices could be powered by human sweat instead of conventional, environmentally-unfriendly batteries, scientists say.

In a new paper published today in the journal Advanced Materials, engineers from the Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) group at the University of Glasgow describe how working up a sweat could be enough to generate power for exercise monitors and other electronic devices in the future.

An All-Organic Proton Battery Energised for Sustainable Energy Storage

Uppsala University (Sweden), Press Releases from

Sustainable energy storage is in great demand. Researchers at Uppsala University have therefore developed an all-organic proton battery that can be charged in a matter of seconds. The battery can be charged and discharged over 500 times without any significant loss of capacity. Their work has been published in the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie.

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