One of the best motivational tools I have ever used is a Garmin GPS Watch. I recently bought a Garmin Forerunner 410 to help me collect data as I train for a half marathon. Rather than sit here and talk about it, watch the video to see exactly all the things that go with it. Below the video is an interview I did with a representative from the Garmin Company.
David Tiefenthaler - I was a bit overwhelmed with all the charts and graphs that are available at Garmin Connect and the Garmin Training Center after I upload a run. Is it tough to balance keeping things user friendly, but still allowing people to have all this data at their fingertips?
Justin McCarthy - Well… the short answer to the question is yes! We have debated many times the proper balance in this regard. We have talked about not showing the graphs unless a user specifically performs an action to request them, for example. But in the end we try to keep in mind that Garmin is primarily about “the data” and our users buy our products because they want information about their activities. So, for the convenience of most of our users we want the most pertinent data to be right there at our users’ fingertips without having to work very hard to see it.
DT - Your two newest watches are the Garmin 410 and the new Garmin 610. Can you explain the major differences between these two watches?
JM - The Forerunner 410 is controlled by a touch bezel as opposed to a touchscreen with the Forerunner 610. Also, with its sleek design the 610 is more likely to be worn as an everyday watch as well as training aide. The 610 includes new features such as Training Effect and Virtual Racer and adds a vibration motor for alerts.
DT - The Garmin 610 has a touch screen, but it is different that smartphone touch screens. What are the differences between these two technologies?
JM - The Forerunner 610 uses a resistive touch screen as opposed to a capacitive screen found in most smartphones. This technology allows users to wear gloves and still ensure accurate touches. Also, our technology is able to withstand all types of weather without causing the screen to jump around.
DT - Is one of your goals to keep making each new model of watch smaller? What are the challenges you face if you try to make a lighter model in the future?
JM - Size of the device relates a great deal to how much data users can view on the screen and how readable that data is. We do indeed have some sleek designs that can be used as everyday watches as well as training tools, yet there will always be a need for devices that display more info. Again, we take feedback from our users and our award winning designers to create industry leading products.
DT - Did you ever consider making a male and female version of your watch (colors, different sizes)?
JM - Our Forerunner 110 and FR60 devices do come in multiple colors and even sizing differences. We definitely have an ear to the streets and are interested in what our female demographic has to say. Our future products will reflect the needs of both our male and female customers.
DT - I use the Heart Rate Monitor too. Would it ever be possible to have the watch itself keep track of your pulse without the strap around your chest? Perhaps a sticky diode could be put on your chest?
JM - At the current, the most accurate method is indeed with the heart rate monitor strap.
DT - How many people use the Garmin Training Center or Garmin Connect? Do you get a lot of people downloading their training?
JM - Garmin Connect: (numbers changing every second) Total number of activities: 82,232,843
Total number of uploaded activities: 82,228,583
Total number of users: 1,860,395
Total number of goals: 553,835
DT - Are you looking towards adding social media into your training center? For instance you could share your workouts with groups of people on Facebook?
JM - There are no current plans to add this feature to Training Center, however social media is a large focus for Garmin Connect and a current option.
I asked Justin McCarthy of Garmin several more questions in this interview. I am hoping he will get back to me soon with answers to these questions. Several of these questions were asked by users of Running AHEAD, which is a running log that can download and display your Garmin GPS Data.