Polar is beefing up the wearable ranks with the Ignite, a GPS sports watch that factors in sleep quality to help you train smarter.
Sitting underneath the Vantage V and Vantage M watches Polar launched last year, the Ignite can track up to 100 activities (indoors and outdoors) and included Polar's new Precision Prime optical heart rate monitor, which served up solid results when we tested the same sensor tech on its Vantage watches.
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But the big story is how Polar is making a bigger push in sleep and the importance of recovery when it comes to training. Polar is zoning in on the autonomic nervous system, which plays a critical role in the body's response to exercise. Polar calculates a score by combining resting heart rate, heart rate variability and respiration rate to determine a user's ANS score.
Alongside this lives Polar's new Sleep Plus Stages feature, which will generate a sleep score to inform users how well they've slept. There's also something called Nightly Recharge, which takes the sleep data and combining it with daily recovery information. Both the ANS and sleep scores are then combined to tell users how ready they are for exercise, and to guide them to maximize their performance levels when it matters most.
"Most companies in the sleep tracking game are only looking at the quality of the sleep, and that‚Äôs important, and we do that, but we‚Äôre also looking at the degree of recovery of the autonomic nervous system," Polar USA president Tom Fowler told Wareable.
"Sleep will in large part determine how well prepared we are the next day to perform mentally as well as physically," he added
These new features will also be rolling out to Polar's Vantage watches in October, but one feature that will stay exclusive to the Ignite is FitSpark. This offers adaptive, personalised advice and suggested exercises based on fitness level, training history and those Nightly Recharge measurements. FitSpark joins existing features like Polar's Running Index and adaptive Running Program that are also in the smart coaching mix.
"This is not a toy for people who are dabbling around. It really hits the buttons for performance," said Fowler. ‚ÄúAs opposed to the Vantage, which is for hardcore athletes, it‚Äôs really for the fitness customer.‚ÄĚ
One other new feature that we've yet to see crop up on Polar watches (but have seen on smartwatches) is the Serene guided breathing exercises. Like Apple, Samsung and Google's guided breathing features, this is all about helping you de-stress and sees Polar venture into that mindfulness space for the first time with one of its sports watches.
The Ignite is on sale today priced ¬£174.50 in white, yellow or black colored wristbands. Additional accessory bands are priced at ¬£21.50. We'll hopefully be putting the Ignite through its paces soon to see whether those new sleep and training features are worth getting excited about.