ANT+ to lead the way in sports, fitness but Bluetooth Smart is biting on its heels

ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart are forecast to become the most utilized wireless technology in sports and fitness monitoring devices.


ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart are forecast to become the most utilized wireless technology in sports and fitness monitoring devices, according to a recent report from IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc. The report, Wireless Opportunities in Health and Fitness Monitoring – 2012 Edition, projects that in the medium-term, ANT+ will have the highest adoption rate in sports and fitness monitoring devices. However, in 2016, the penetration rate of Bluetooth Smart in sports and fitness devices is forecast to overtake that of ANT+ with around 45% of wireless-enabled sports and fitness monitors forecast to use Bluetooth Smart.

Lisa Arrowsmith, Analyst, IMS ResearchANT+ is already well established in the sports and fitness industry with sports manufacturers such as Adidas, Garmin and Suunto using the technology. Adidas recently released the latest addition to its miCoach range of monitoring devices, the Speedcell, which can be attached to the F50 football boot in order to collect information from the wearer such as speed, velocity and steps taken. Information can be uploaded via ANT+ to a range of ANT+ compliant devices.

Bluetooth Smart has only just begun to see uptake in sports and fitness devices, with Wahoo Fitness and Nike being the first to implement the technology. Other large companies such as Polar have also shown their intent to support the technology with a number of devices demonstrated at CES 2012.

Lisa Arrowsmith, senior analyst with IMS Research’s Connectivity Group explains, “The rapid transition from ‘classic’ Bluetooth to Bluetooth Smart Ready (Bluetooth 4.0) in smart phones, combined with native support in Apple’s iOS and the expected inclusion in the upcoming Microsoft Windows 8 platform, is set to drive more sports and fitness monitoring device OEMs to look to Bluetooth Smart to provide connectivity with consumer devices. As a result, Bluetooth Smart is expected to be the most utilized wireless technology in sports and fitness devices shipped in 2016.”

Arrowsmith continues, “ANT+ has seen some adoption in cellular handsets, from companies such as Sony Ericsson (which has 15 models supporting ANT) and HTC (which has one model supporting ANT). However, in the coming years Bluetooth Smart-Ready is set to show higher adoption in cellular handsets as a rapid transition from ‘classic’ Bluetooth to Bluetooth Smart Ready occurs.”

Due to the move towards standardized solutions, technologies such as 5 kHz, which is currently the most adopted technology in heart rate monitors, and proprietary technologies such as Nike+, which is based on ANT, are less likely to be used. Nike has demonstrated its Nike Fuel band as well as a range of new Nike+ devices which utilize Bluetooth Smart, signaling support for the technology. In general, proprietary technology will be less utilized in the future as smartphones are increasingly used as a “hub” for sports and fitness devices. In addition to this, standardized technology gives consumers the ability to “mix-and-match” sports and fitness devices in order to produce the monitoring system that works best for them, without being tied to a manufacturer.

IMS Research’s latest report, Wireless Opportunities in Sports and Fitness Monitoring – 2012 Edition, assesses the uptake of 10 wireless technologies in five sports and fitness monitoring devices (heart rate monitors, activity monitors, footpods, speed and distance sensors and cycling computers), four types of hub device (cellular handsets, portable computing devices desktop PCs and home gateways), and six types of consumer health monitoring devices (blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors, pulse oximeters, weight scales, implantable devices and others).

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