Outdoors + Tech newsletter – October 27, 2020

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for October 27, 2020



Amazon, Fitbit, and Apple are launching new wearables. Does it really matter?

Advisory Board Daily podcast, from

… Woods: What do you want executives to focus on when it comes to wearables right now?

Rebhan: I would say wearables are going to have a play as far as advancing population health management, they’re going to help to build out your consumers and strategies, but you shouldn’t look at wearables as a standalone technology. It’s got to be part of a multi-dimensional clinical program for wellness. So if you think about wearables as far as them being just one source of patient-generated data, you’ve got to compile that with mobile apps and home monitoring equipment and virtual assistance and patient portals, and then have those appropriate wraparounds, that are actually typically nontech in nature, for your care managers, your social networks and communities, your health navigators, your coaches, because those are people who are actually going to keep patients accountable, because patients will not often act in their own self-interest. [audio, 22:26]

2020 Running Smartwatch Roundup Review

Podium Runner, Chris Foster from

With so many solo miles being logged in 2020, and racing reduced to individually-measured time trials, it’s no surprise that new running smartwatches have been arriving en masse. We take a look at six new wrist-top companions that range from fashionable, almost lifestyle-only to high-sci stride dynamic tech wizardry.

How to Use Blood Oxygen Data on Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung

WIRED, Gear, Boone Ashworth from

Oxygen is absorbed by a protein in your blood called hemoglobin. When you breathe, your lungs load up blood cells with oxygen, then the pumping of your heart circulates the oxygen-rich blood through the rest of your body. Fresh, oxygen-rich blood keeps everything from your brain to the tips of your toes functioning and healthy. A pulse oximeter measures the amount of oxygen being carried by blood cells through your system and reports it as a percentage. That percentage is your oxygen saturation level (also called SpO2). Normal oxygen levels are between 95 and 100 percent. A rating lower than 95 can indicate problems with your body’s circulation, but your normal baseline might vary. A person’s SpO2 can also be lower because of preexisting conditions, the type of device taking the measurement, or even the amount of light in the room. (More on that in a moment.)

DC Rainmaker State of Sports Tech 2020 Keynote

DC Rainmaker blog, Ray Maker from

… the focus of the presentation begins with some of the overarching trends in the wearables and sports technology space, and then gets successively deeper into the weeds as we go along, talking about areas such as indoor training (and the rise of anti-competitive practices), or power meters and even running power. I also talk about the impact of COVID-19 on sports tech as well.

non-wrist wearable

New online first from Alexandra F. DeJong, MEd, ATC, and Dr. Jay Hertel, ATC, FNATA:

Twitter, Journal of Athletic Training from

Validation of Foot-Strike Assessment Using Wearable Sensors During Running.


Garmin’s Virtual Developer Conference News Tidbits for Connect IQ 4.0 and Garmin Connect Platform

DC Rainmaker blog, Ray Maker from

Last week was Garmin’s 3rd annual Garmin Connect IQ developer event, this time called the Garmin Virtual Developer Conference since it’s all online, versus the Connect IQ Summit that was in person and held at Garmin’s headquarters in Olathe, Kansas. This conference digs into all the nitty-gritty aspects of Connect IQ, but also now developer aspects across Garmin’s entire platform, beyond just Connect IQ running on a watch. For example, this included aspects of the previous ANT+ Symposium (so, ANT+ as a technology), as well as health platform bits that aren’t really Connect IQ directly.

How technology is helping to reshape fitness and outdoor recreation

Fast Company, FastCo Works, Booz Allen Hamilton from

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, people increasingly have turned to exercise as a way to relax and recharge—often in droves. Yellowstone National Park, one of the crown jewels of the National Park Service, recorded its second busiest August ever as nearly 900,000 visitors passed through its gates.

But as with most everything in the COVID era, the usual rules don’t apply when it comes to staying active, whether hiking to Old Faithful or just working up a sweat at home. At this year’s Fast Company Innovation Festival, a panel discussion presented by Booz Allen Hamilton explored how digital innovations are helping to reshape recreation today, and in the years to come. Here are five key takeaways from the event:

1. Trip-planning goes digital

How Retailers Use Artificial Intelligence to Know What You Want to Buy Before You Do

Barron's, Teresa Rivas from

“An AI system needs data in order to become smart. And the more data it has, the smarter it gets,” says Gaylene Meyer, Vice President Global Marketing & Communications at RFID company Impinj (PI), whose products allow retailers to track trillions of items of inventory in real time and respond quickly to changes in demand. “When you can see everything moving through a system, you gain a new view of the system as a whole. So you can find the pain points and eliminate them.”

That’s crucial, as inconvenience is the enemy of sales; the easier the transaction, the more likely people are to complete it. The pandemic played havoc with supply chains throughout the industry, causing products to be out of stock or delayed in delivery. That, coupled with consumers’ reluctance to buy nondiscretionary items, actually drove data down earlier this year.

Yet the strongest retailers, who have seen revenues climb in 2020 and have the money to invest in technology, may be able to sidestep this problem—especially as they use data not directly tied to sales.

“Mobile is the new mall,” says Cowen & Co. analyst Oliver Chen, who notes that machine learning allows brands to build one-on-one relationships with consumers at scale. “It’s how you interact with a retailer online; that’s the secret sauce behind a lot of social media data. It comes back to [retailers] knowing what you want before you know you want it, to keeping you interested, buying, and satisfied.”


#RoboGym: Take a look at the future of training: “The integrative RoboGym approach combines neurophysiological and biomechanical aspects resulting in a novel Human-in-the-loop concept for neuromuscular training.”

Twitter, Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln, KUKA Americas from

Together with BEC GmbH, @SpohoKoeln and @RWTH, the gym of tomorrow is being developed based on our KR 160 nano

@49ers partners with @joovvsocial and will become the first professional sports team to partner with a light recovery brand.

Twitter, Sport Innovation Society from


The best resistance bands in 2020 (that you can actually buy right now)

CNET, Amanda Capritto from

… To be truthful, the best resistance bands are any that you can currently find without a 15-week backorder. More than half a year into the pandemic, the workout-from-home craze has turned from a temporary trend to a necessity (Gym? Who’s that?) and equipment manufacturers still face an unhealthy supply chain.

However, you can still find a few great sets of resistance bands online right now. This article lists the best ones you can currently buy without waiting for weeks.

Scientists Weigh in on the Great Trekking Pole Debate

Outside Online, Alex Hutchinson from

… Trekking poles elicit mixed feelings. Their boosters certainly love them, and not just in the backcountry. “People will still say, ‘Hey, you forgot your skis!’” an “urban poling” instructor told CBC News a few years ago. “We’re going to change that. In Europe, they look at you kind of funny if you walk around without poles.” On the other hand, the Switzerland-based International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation sounds a more skeptical tone, suggesting that using poles too much will sap your balance and coordination, thus raising the risk of accidents in situations like crossing ridges that are too narrow for poles.

There have actually been quite a few studies investigating the pros and cons of pole use, and they’re summarized in a new review article by Ashley Hawke and Randall Jensen in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. This isn’t a meta-analysis that aggregates the results of a bunch of studies into one big dataset, because the studies all tackle slightly different questions in slightly different contexts. But bringing all the studies together in one place allows us to extract some common themes.

HOKA ONE ONE® Announces Launch of the TenNine Hike GTX, A New Innovation Designed to Provide Hiking’s Smoothest Ride

PR Newswire, Hoke One One from

The TenNine Hike GTX features HOKA’s unique HUBBLE® Geometry, which – along with the brand’s signature Meta-Rocker in the midsole and 4-millimeter offset – is designed to gently catch the foot’s impact, spend less time decelerating upon impact, and spend more time accelerating on toe-off, propelling users smoothly and softly through each stride. In a lab study, the TenNine Hike GTX had a lower loading rate than the other hiking shoes it was tested against, providing a smoother impact. The difference is even more pronounced when wearing a backpack vs. not carrying anything. The wide, maximal-cushion platform is designed to be ultra-stable, and at just 416 grams (M9), the TenNine Hike GTX is soft, light and efficient.


In pursuit of the circular with bioplastics

Innovation in Textiles blog, Adrian Wilson from

At the recent RISE 2020 virtual conference, Alexander Koukoulas, managing director of A2K Consulting, predicted that bioplastics will become increasingly important to the textile and nonwovens industries as substitutions for synthetic fibres, as well as in the replacement of general commodity plastic packaging and other end-uses that will be initially easier to develop.

Is It Okay to Eat the Same Thing Every Day?

STACK, Brandon Hall from

Many people approach their diet with the motto, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you’ve found something that works for you, why not eat it on a regular basis? It’s easier and less expensive to stick to what you know than to constantly mix things up. For example, the standard dinner of many fitness-minded folks is grilled chicken breast, steamed veggies and brown rice—and they eat it every night, no problem! Also, lots of people eat their favorite salad every day for lunch.

Is this behavior nutritionally sound? Should people eat the same meals day in and day out? Or is variety a key to health? STACK talked to registered dietitian Brian St. Pierre to learn whether eating the same thing every day is a smart move.

New procedure can regenerate injured cartilage

The Seattle Times, The Washington Post, Marlene Cimons from

… Until recently, [Matt] Oates had few options, one of them to give up running entirely with the hope that his knee would not further deteriorate. He couldn’t live with that. “Running is my Zen time,” he says. “I couldn’t take a ‘you can’t run again.’ “

Today, however, he says he hopes to benefit from a relatively new and innovative technique that regenerates cartilage from a sample of cells taken from his knee and grown in a lab, where they are embedded on a collagen membrane. The surgeon then implants the membrane back into the knee, where new cartilage tissue forms over time.

“It’s the first procedure that uses a patient’s own knee cartilage cells to try to regrow cartilage that has been lost or damaged,” says Seth Sherman, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University Medical Center and chair of the Sports Medicine/Arthroscopy Committee for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.


Community Conversation: The North Face Dedicates Millions to Address Inequity in the Outdoors

NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, Laura Harris from

In this week’s Community Conversation: Call for Change, we explored how outdoor clothing brand The North Face is dedicating $7 million to address inequity in the outdoors. They are also announcing a new collaboration to help make it happen.

“Our initiative is called Reset the Normal and we are partnering with Lena Waithe and also Jimmy Chin who is one of our long time athletes who actually hear input from organizations that represent people of color but also aren’t necessarily from the outdoor industry so we are actually forming what’s called the Explore Fund Counsel. We’re working to bring people together and bring more diversity to other areas besides the outdoor spaces.”

How Iceman Wim Hof Uncovered the Secrets to Our Health

Outside Online, Susan Casey from

Wim Hof’s teachings about breath work and the health benefits of cold plunges have attracted millions of followers who swear it has cured everything from depression to diabetes and makes them happier and stronger. Our writer traveled to Iceland (naturally) for a deep dive with the man and his methods.

Why does central nervous system (CNS) fatigue happen during strength training?

Sports Biometrics Conference, Chris Beardsley from

… Why is CNS fatigue important?

When CNS fatigue occurs, voluntary activation is reduced. This means that either the number of motor units that are recruited decreases or their firing rates decrease.

Since motor units are always recruited in size order, this means that the highest threshold motor units (which control the largest numbers of the most highly-responsive fibers) are derecruited, or their firing rates are reduced. Consequently, when CNS fatigue occurs, these important muscle fibers are stimulated to a lesser extent (or even not at all) after a workout. This means that less muscle growth will be stimulated.

Importantly, the failure to achieve maximal levels of motor unit recruitment occurs even when we train to muscular failure. This is because “muscular” failure is actually caused by both CNS fatigue and local, muscular fatigue.


A Plan to Fix the US Bike Shortage

WIRED, Ideas, Garphil Julien from

… “We don’t engage in a manufacturing industrial policy in the US,” says Richard Schwinn, the great-grandson of the founder of Schwinn Bicycles and founder of Waterford Precision Cycles, based in Waterford, Wisconsin. “Our policies are supporting insurance companies and financial intermediaries. There exists no infrastructure to build things that are fundamental to the bike industry. You have to import low-cost rims and bike tires, and in the US it’s so much harder to get carbon fiber needed for bikes than in China.”


Human running performance from real-world big data

Nature Communications journal from

Wearable exercise trackers provide data that encode information on individual running performance. These data hold great potential for enhancing our understanding of the complex interplay between training and performance. Here we demonstrate feasibility of this idea by applying a previously validated mathematical model to real-world running activities of ≈ 14,000 individuals with ≈ 1.6 million exercise sessions containing duration and distance, with a total distance of ≈ 20 million km. Our model depends on two performance parameters: an aerobic power index and an endurance index. Inclusion of endurance, which describes the decline in sustainable power over duration, offers novel insights into performance: a highly accurate race time prediction and the identification of key parameters such as the lactate threshold, commonly used in exercise physiology. Correlations between performance indices and training volume and intensity are quantified, pointing to an optimal training. Our findings hint at new ways to quantify and predict athletic performance under real-world conditions. [full text]

“You Are Here”: Understanding How GPS Works

R-bloggers, Learning Machines from

… Nowadays most of us have several GPS devices, in their cars, their smartphones, and their smartwatches. Those are receivers of signals coming from over 30 satellites orbiting the earth. … Many of the technical details are interesting, yet here I want you to understand the core principle of how it works. With the real GPS, you need three satellites to determine two coordinates one of which can be discarded. Because the clock in the GPS receiver is not fully synchronized you need a fourth satellite to compensate for that. The resulting system of equations has to be solved to determine the position. In our toy example, we will only do the 2D-case with two satellites, yet the principle stays the same.

Adding carbon fiber to shoe soles may not improve running economy: a muscle-level explanation

Twitter, Owen Beck from

NEW ARTICLE https://rdcu.be/b8r76

“If runners went back in time, added carbon fiber plates to their footwear and re-raced, their performance would likely not change.”

public lands

Yellowstone National Park To Test Shuttles In 2021

National Parks Traveler from

… In consultation with the NPS Park Planning, Facilities and Lands Directorate and DOT, Yellowstone selected Canyon Village to test a low-speed, automated shuttle that would potentially serve the campground, visitor services, and adjoining visitor lodging area. The purpose of this pilot is to test emerging automated vehicle technology in the national park context. Exact shuttle stops, route locations and distance will be determined jointly between the park and the selected vendor, Beep Inc. Shuttles will run from late May through August of 2021. Principal parties chose Canyon Village based on visitor safety and the potential for the NPS to learn from the pilot.

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