Polar vs. ANT and ANT+ (second installment)
More on Polar vs. ANT and ANT+…
Polar still primarily uses 5.3 kHz electro-magnetic (EM) wireless communication technology to get data from their heart monitors. This works for short range, very low data rate, one way communication. EM is subject to interference and cross talk from other EM sources. Unfortunately, EM is not capable of providing the functionality required by today’s sophisticated personal monitoring solutions involving multiple sensors, multiple users in proximity, more data and requirements like file transfers. As such, the manufacturers of many of today’s leading personal monitoring products for fitness (e.g. Digifit, Garmin, Adidas, Timex and 300+ others) have adopted ANT and ANT+.
ANT is a communication protocol which uses 2.4 GHz RF technology and provides for advanced network topologies and communication functionality, all at very low power and cost. ANT is available in chip form from Nordic Semiconductor and Texas instruments.
ANT+ is an interoperable standard which defines network parameters and the data content for classes of devices in ANT+ Device Profiles (e.g. Heart Rate Monitor, Foot Pod, Bike Power, Weight Scale, etc)
ANT and ANT+ enable suppliers to focus on their core competencies and use a proven off-the-shelf wireless technology optimized for sensor interface. Over the years, several large OEMs have developed their own 2.4 GHz technology and kept it proprietary, to try and use it as a market advantage (e.g. Nike+ and Polar WIND) but none has come close to the technological sophistication of ANT and broad adoption thanks to the ANT+ standard.
For several years now Polar has been making noises about transitioning to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). As of now (Nov 2010) this is still not a reality. My next blog will be on the current status of BLE and its place in the world of ultra-low power wireless.
Have a great workout!