Outdoors + Tech newsletter – February 24, 2020

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for February 24, 2020



Garmin Ltd. (GRMN) Q4 2019 Earnings Call Transcript

The Motley Fool from

… Thank you, Teri and good morning everyone. As announced earlier today, we finished 2019 strong with revenue for the quarter increasing 18% over the prior year to $1.1 billion. Fitness, aviation, marine and outdoor collectively increased 24% over the prior year. Gross margin was 58% compared to 58.9% during the prior year. Operating margin improved to 25.1% and operating income increased 24% over the prior year. These results generated GAAP EPS of $1.89 and pro forma EPS of $1.29 in the quarter, an increase of 26%.


Wearable Microphone Jamming

University of Chicago, HCI Lab, Ben Y. Zhao and Heather Zheng from

We engineered a wearable microphone jammer that is capable of disabling microphones in its user’s surroundings, including hidden microphones. Our device is based on a recent exploit that leverages the fact that when exposed to ultrasonic noise, commodity microphones will leak the noise into the audible range. Moreover, our device exploits a synergy between ultrasonic jamming and the naturally occurring movements that users induce on their wearable devices (e.g., bracelets) as they gesture or walk. We demonstrate that these movements can blur jamming blind spots and increase jamming coverage. Lastly, our wearable bracelet is built in a ring-layout that allows it to jam in multiple directions. This is beneficial in that it allows our jammer to protect against microphones hidden out of sight.


Garmin Advanced Swim Features | new to 945 & Fenix 6 Series

the5krunner blog from

New Garmin swimming features for pool and OWS have recently made their way to both the Fenix 6 series and Forerunner 945 after their debut on the new Swim 2 in October 2019. With a bit of luck, these same features might make their way to the Fenix 5 Plus watches but probably not to the earlier Fenix 5 series…only time will tell.


non-wrist wearable

How to make a sweat sensor for drugs – Guidelines include how to deal with pesky interfering signals when making voltammetric

Chemical & Engineering News, Louisa Dalton from

Most oral medicines easily slip into sweat, which makes sweat sensors well suited to tracking pharmaceutical consumption. But a pitfall for drug monitoring in sweat is interfering electroactive molecules like amino acids that can mask the desired drug signal. Researchers now present design guidelines for creating electroactive drug sensors for sweat that include a strategy for avoiding or working around the interfering molecules (ACS Sens. 2020, DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.9b02233). The guidelines helped them create an effective sensor for monitoring dipyridamole, a drug given after heart surgery.


Blood and sweat: Wearable medical sensors will get major sensitivity boost

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Research News from

Biosensors integrated into smartphones, smart watches, and other gadgets are about to become a reality. In a paper featured on the cover of the January issue of Sensors, researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology describe a way to increase the sensitivity of biological detectors to the point where they can be used in mobile and wearable devices. The study was supported by the Russian Science Foundation.


Can Wearables Keep Up with Us?

npj Digital Medicine, Behind the Paper, Brinnae Bent and Jessilyn Dunn from

Wearable technology has the potential to transform healthcare and research through accessible, continuous, and longitudinal health monitoring. The coming ubiquity of wearable technology will particularly provide a unique opportunity to revolutionize health care in communities with traditionally limited healthcare access. However, the accuracy of wearable technologies has been a hotly debated topic both in research and in popular culture. As wearable technologies are increasingly being used for clinical research and healthcare, it is critical to understand their accuracy and determine how measurement errors may affect research conclusions and impact healthcare decision-making. … In this study, we tested optical heart rate sensors on six of the most popular devices on the market for both consumers (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, XiaoMi Miband) and for research (Empatica E4, Biovotion Everion) against the clinical reference standard for monitoring heart rate, the electrocardiogram (ECG). We tested the devices on a population that was roughly evenly distributed across all skin tones according to the Fitzpatrick skin tone scale. Study participants performed a variety of activities of daily living, including rest, walking, and typing on a keyboard, as shown in the top of Figure 1.



The Biomarker Future is Digital

Clinical Omics, Alice McCarthy from

… As demand for preventive and precision healthcare continues to grow, so has the need for a new class of biomarkers. Ones that are highly portable, reliable, and immediate yet suffer no lack of precision or accuracy.

Enter the domain of the digital biomarker.

Digital refers to the method of collecting information. Instead of blood tests and medical imaging, digital biomarkers use sensors and algorithms across a plethora of available connected hardware and software tools. In this space, the patient is increasingly a consumer: one who wears, ingests, or has digital devices implanted. In many cases, these patient-consumers have some autonomy over when information is collected and with whom to share it.


VUB test helps athletes avoid ‘overtraining syndrome’

Flanders Today (Belgium), Andy Furniere from

To become a top athlete, there’s no arguing that limits of physical endurance have to be pushed, over and over again. But athletes also need to get enough rest – both physical and mental – or they risk developing “overtraining syndrome”, which can curtail their physical abilities permanently.

To ensure that athletes don’t cross this line, researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) have designed the diagnostic Top test.

All athletes know that they need sufficient rest to recuperate from demanding physical labour and “listen to their body” when it tells them something is wrong. But this instinct is sometimes pushed aside because of ambitions to become even faster, ever better.

This can actually result in athletes becoming “overtrained”. Which is not a disaster, unless they develop the so-called overtraining syndrome.


The Open Wearables Initiative (OWEAR) is a collaboration between working group: Shimmer, Nextbridge Health, @vtvanhees, @Sagebio, and @_DiMeSocietyCheck out our website!

Twitter, ShimmerSensing from

The Open Wearables Initiative (OWEAR) is a collaboration designed to promote the effective use of high-quality, sensor-generated measures of health in clinical research through the open sharing of algorithms and data sets.

OWEAR will serve as a community hub for the indexing and distribution of open source algorithms. To identify performant algorithms in areas of high interest, OWEAR will act as a neutral broker to conduct formal and objective benchmarking of algorithms in selected domains.



Sometimes it’s good to be thin-skinned

Medium, Purdue College of Engineering from

Being thin-skinned — too sensitive, too quick to react — is a self-defeating strategy in life. But smart thin films — electronic circuits on a sticker that act as sensors and can be affixed to objects — is another version of thin-skinned altogether. They give you the desirable ability to be hypersensitive and react swiftly, transforming inanimate objects into smart devices that can sense and report real-time information about their environment and condition.

Dubbed “sticktronics,” smart thin films are just like a sticker, only with embedded high-performance electronics and sensors that “smarten up” anything to which you paste them. Sticktronics let you endow objects with a variety of desired functionality — such as the ability to sense chemical changes, temperature, humidity, as well as to harness solar energy.


SPOT Launches SPOT Mapping to Provide Advanced Navigation and Tracking Services

SNEWS, Backbone Media LLC from

SPOT LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar, Inc., (NYSE American: GSAT) and a leader in satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, today announced its newest upgrade. SPOT Mapping is now available for all SPOT devices, offering an easy dashboard to track and share outdoor adventures, while providing an added peace of mind when the unexpected happens.

SPOT Mapping includes mobile responsive and sharable maps, multi-year data storage, and various map displays, including satellite, road and terrain options. Users can view maps in live mode for real-time tracking, or history mode to review previous trips and set places to reference on the next journey.



A Very Deep Dive on Ski Boots, Part 4: Liners, Ramp Angle, & Forward Lean (Ep.88)

BLISTER, Jonathan Ellsworth from

Ski boot liners are probably the most overlooked and least appreciated piece of ski gear out there, but they are a critical piece of equipment. So Matt Manser, the product manager of Atomic Ski Boots, is back to demystify the extremely complex, very expensive, and poorly understood category of ski boot liners. [audio, 1:35:28]


Adidas Strikes Back

Running Shoes Guru, Ruggero Loda from

In 2019, Nike-sponsored athletes dominated the World Marathon Majors, claiming 31 out of the 36 available podium positions. All of them were sporting some version of the Nike Vaporfly.

The other 5 podiums all went to athletes wearing Adidas shoes. During the last marathon of the season – the NYC Marathon – Albert Korir and Mary Keytany both placed second and both were wearing a pair of Adizero Pro.


3 Mega Reasons All Runners Should Use a Stryd Power Meter

YouTube, SwimCycleRunCoach from

… It’s not just a tool for elite runners – beginner runners and improvers need the tools a power meter can give you. [video, 26:57]



Bike cadence for triathletes: why it matters and how to find your optimum pedalling efficiency

220Triathlon, Nik Cook from

What’s a good bike cadence?

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ advice for bike cadence. We all have a different blend of muscle fibres, varying sporting backgrounds and wildly ranging levels of conditioning.

Although for many triathletes, a faster 90-100rpm cadence is effective, others, such as Caroline Steffen, do very well riding in the 70-80rpm range.


LeBron James Is the New Hero of Bike Shares

Outside Online, Ethan Weiss from

The basketball icon knows that if you want kids to succeed, you need to give them access to bikes and bike lanes



How maps tracking climate disasters fall short—and endanger lives

Fast Company, Suzanne LaBarre from

Last fall, a fire swept across Sonoma County, California, burning more than 77,000 acres and scattering particulate matter throughout the Bay Area, where I live. I had just had a baby, and as the sky over my house turned a strange popsicle orange, I took to obsessively refreshing air-quality maps on my phone. Was it safe to take my newborn outside? Should my family leave town, as we had done the previous fall—smoke refugees from the deadliest fire season on California record?

The maps were not helpful. My neighborhood appeared yellow on one map to indicate “moderate” air quality, and red (“unhealthy”) on another. At one point, the latter map turned violet (“very unhealthy”), even though the first map was still yellow. I couldn’t get a clear answer. So for days, I hunkered down indoors and parked my baby by the air purifier. Better safe than sorry.


How Does Technology Affect Users’ Psychology?

Psychology Today, Azadeh Aalai Ph.D. from

It is hard to stay up to date when it comes to psychological research regarding technology, given how rapidly tech changes relative to the process it takes to perform valid empirical research.

The pervasive use of technology and reliance on our digital gadgets is impacting our psychology in countless ways. Here is a quick overview of some of the most recent findings in the field regarding the psychology of technology consumption.


Fitness app Strava finds love-hate relationship with running

Reuters, Kate Kelland from

Only a fraction of people who run do so because they love it, and most are motivated by boosting their body image and improving their heart and mental health, according to a global survey by the fitness-tracking app Strava.


public lands

What is the quietest natural location on the surface of the planet?

BBC Science Focus Magazine, Luis Villazon from

… To escape wind and birdsong, too, you need somewhere barren and sheltered, such as the crater of a volcano. One good candidate is the Haleakalā crater on the Hawaiian island of Maui, which has been dubbed the “quietest place on Earth”. Here, the sound level is just 10 decibels – the same volume as your own breathing – and is probably as quiet as anything you can experience.


The problem of precedent: National Bison Range transfer sparks opposition and concern

Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Montana Free Press, Alex Sakariassen from

… nearly two dozen tribal and conservation organizations have since rallied behind a push for bison range restoration legislation, arguing that such a move would correct a century-old injustice and enhance the cultural and ecological significance of the roughly 300 bison that roam the range. John Todd, deputy director of the Montana Wilderness Association, told Montana Free Press that his organization’s support for Daines’ proposal is grounded in awareness that contemporary public access to public lands is a direct result of the forced removal of tribal peoples throughout the West.

“It corrects an injustice of the range being taken away from them a long time ago,” Todd said, “and it really gives the tribes the opportunity to incorporate the bison range into a really rich fabric of conservation that they have there on the reservation.”


Green Christmases: Alpine ski resorts ponder a future without snow

Yahoo Sports, AFP from

Last Christmas, for the first time in its existence, a ski resort in the French Alpine town of Montclar could count neither on Mother Nature nor its artificial snow machines to produce enough of the white stuff to cover its pistes.

Instead, it had to use a helicopter, at great cost, to bring snow from the high peaks of the Alps to lower, warmer altitudes where, unusually, there was no natural ski cover.



Superefficient solar desalination

Chemical & Engineering News, Prachi Patel from

… Evelyn Wang of MIT, Ruzhu Wang of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and their colleagues made a multistage system that goes way beyond this, boasting an efficiency of 385% when tested under ideal conditions. It does that by reusing the heat that is released when water vapor condenses to liquid. It’s the first system to take advantage of this energy, which is usually wasted.


Israeli Water-From-Air Tech Firm To Launch Solar-Powered Home Generator

No Camels, News Briefs from

Israeli company Watergen (also Water-gen), known for developing patented technology that turns air into drinking water, developed a solar-powered version of its at-home water generator Genny set to hit the market later this year.

The generator, named Solar Genny, runs on solar energy and is suitable for more remote locations such as rural villages and centers, where electricity access can be unstable and unreliable.


New Green Technology from UMass Amherst Generates Electricity ‘Out of Thin Air’

University of Massachusetts Amherst, News & Media Relations from

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a device that uses a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air, a new technology they say could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and in the future of medicine.

As reported today in Nature, the laboratories of electrical engineer Jun Yao and microbiologist Derek Lovley at UMass Amherst have created a device they call an “Air-gen.” or air-powered generator, with electrically conductive protein nanowires produced by the microbe Geobacter. The Air-gen connects electrodes to the protein nanowires in such a way that electrical current is generated from the water vapor naturally present in the atmosphere.


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