The confidentiality clause on Garmin’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing for something that is referred to as a “Smart Band” lifts on March 30th. Could this a Whoop competitor or might it be it something else?
A plethora of different filings from the sports wearable giant have come through the FCC in recent months. Hence, we saw a number of launches so far this year, including the Venu 2 Plus, Fenix 7, Epix (gen 2) and Descent G1. We are also expecting the imminent unveiling of Tactix 7 (commonly referred to as Echo).
Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets
But a new, more interesting wearable, might be in the works. It is still shrouded in mystery so what follows are details on the regulatory filing, along with our speculation as to what this might be.
Garmin “Smart Band”
An interesting FCC addition from Garmin was filed in late 2021. That one is for something that is referred to as a “Smart Band” – FCC ID IPH-04352. The short term confidentiality on the filing runs out on March 30th 2022.
Some are speculating this could be a Whoop competitor. Now on version 4.0, Whoop is an activity and health tracking device that has no display. Instead you are meant to use the app or website dashboard to view the extremely detailed recovery stats, SpO2, temperature and other vitals metrics. The latest generation is smaller in size and, in addition to the wrist, you can now wear it on other parts of the body such as a torso, waist and calf.
Whoop is popular with professional athletes who are primarily after the detailed recovery insights. But the service comes with a monthly subscription. For many, that’s where the attractiveness of such a device tends to fade.
So far Garmin has chosen not to take that route and we applaud them for that decision. In our mind, if you buy a fitness device you should have access to most of the stats it is capable of producing. Unfortunately more and more companies are choosing the subscription route. Fitbit and Oura are recent examples.
Although Garmin does lack in recovery stats depth, we don’t expect they will release a Whoop-type band with a subscription service. More likely the FCC “Smart Band” is a reference to something in Garmin’s fitness band range.
Having said that, an interesting development is that the company has just added an extra Bluetooth connection to its HRM Pro heart rate band. The timing of the firmware update is interesting and seems to coincide with this release. The strap now has the ability to establish three concurrent Bluetooth connections instead of two. The update is also said to improve both ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity.
As mentioned, the FCC confidentiality clause on internal and external photographs, user manuals and test setup photo run out on March 30th. Garmin typically has product releases on Tuesdays, so the 29th of March is a strong candidate for a new unveiling. Beyond that, Garmin might postpone the confidentiality clause date. It could be that the product launch has been delayed.
What about the Vivosmart 5 and Vivofit 5? Both are well due for an upgrade so could, very well, be the “Smart Band”. The Vivosmart 4 was released in September 2018 while the Vivofit 4 is a simple fitness tracker that dates way back to December 2017. In our mind, we are more likely to see the Vivosmart 5 as we suspect Garmin might make the Vivofit range redundant soon.
Then there is the outside chance this could be Vivosport 2. Most have given up hope we will ever see a new version of that one as it was launched 4 years ago with no updates since. For a long time Vivosport was pretty much the only fitness band around with built-in GPS. Now there are a few other options.
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