TomTom has overhauled the metrics for its leading sports watches, leveraging the heart rate monitor for a host of new metrics.
The company has added two new metrics that are set to dominate its app and web experience, called Fitness Age and Fitness Points, which it hopes will encourage users to keep fit.
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Fitness Age is based on VO2 Max data, a high-end sports science metric, which is a measurement of the level of oxygen transferred to the blood – and is directly linked to fitness and aerobic performance. It's not the first wearable company to look at VO2 Max – Garmin widely uses it in its raw form, and Fitbit had a crack at translating it into a fitness score with the Fitbit Charge 2.
TomTom's method is to link VO2 Max level to age, and spit out an age score, based on the perceived and average state of your heart health. This can be reduced and affected with exercise. It has the power both to shock and reinforce positive trends in users – and is designed to be a less confusing and impenetrable number than a straight VO2 Max score.
It certainly makes sense – what's more, a straight VO2 Max score is clearly displayed separately, and it feels like a compelling addition for newbies and seasoned athletes alike.
The second major overhaul is around Fitness Points – which has a lofty ambition: to replace the long-used 10,000 steps as part of your daily goal.
With 24/7 heart rate, TomTom Spark, Adventurer and Runner devices will measure the intensity of any activity via heart rate for points. TomTom believes it will help users to understand intensity better, showing that a ten minute burst of energy, for example, can have more benefit than plodding the same amount of steps.
Every activity builds points within the app – and the score resets every night. Your daily scores are displayed with a seven day, rolling week view of your week. It's certainly easy to understand, but we do wonder whether the numbers will have the same resonance with users as 10,000 steps. There's a certain opaqueness around what constitutes points, and we feel the company could have gone further in gameifying this experience with badges, social competitions and leaderboards.
The final aspect of the changes to TomTom Sport is guided workouts. These are loaded onto TomTom's Sport watches, and can be followed without the app, straight from your wrist. There are a host of different workouts, for either running or cycling. These include fat burn, endurance, fitness, speed and power.
You load them from the watch itself, and they will automatically adjust to get tougher, if you're finding them too easy.
Many of these guided workouts are based on heart rate zones, and aficionados will be pleased to know that you can manually tune these zones to your personal levels – if you know them.
You can also build your own workouts manually on the web interface, if you want to take them from a magazine.
So is this a game-changing move from TomTom? Well, in short no. But its platform is coming on leaps and bounds, and when you think that a year ago it was a very poor experience, we applaud the company for embracing metrics like VO2 Max for its users.
We'll be getting hands on with the new TomTom metrics and workouts in the coming weeks, and report on how they change the TomTom experience.