ANT+ technology: description and characteristics

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ANT+ technology: description and characteristics
ANT+ technology: description and characteristics
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ANT+ is a wireless data transfer protocol. Operates at 2.4 GHz (similar to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) and features low power consumption, so it is used in sports and medical equipment such as online calorie and cadence counters, as well as smart home systems.

Standardization of communication protocols means that devices that support them can communicate with each other without additional configuration. A classic example of this is the heart rate monitor. The sensor is able to communicate with all Garmin sports watches that support this protocol, as well as with the He alth app of the Samsung S smartphone. An ANT+ device can be used with any such device.

The protocol is developed by the ANT Alliance, and ANT Wireless is a division of Garmin's Dynastream.

Manufacturer convenience

The ANT+ Consortium holds developer conferences every year to meet with product manufacturers and programmers. There are discussions hereand product managers request new profiles for upcoming features. It's also a place where startups submit new designs and profiles in the hope that manufacturers will license them, or just want to make things themselves.

The ANT+ technology development team has been led by Sebastian Barnovsky since June 2012, who creates profiles - a communication language for a certain type of information.

Thus, heart rate data has its own profile, as does power, speed, cadence, etc. This allows you to work with devices from different brands, which is a boon for everyone. Closed systems like Polar's proprietary language simply don't hold up in the future where ANT+ technology is heading.

anti technology
anti technology

Effective integration

So what happens if someone wants to submit new information that is not in the current profiles? According to Barnowski, this can be done in two ways. The first and fastest option is to create your own profile, which is necessary for the rapid launch of a product on the market or in order to hide something from other devices. This can be done at any time at the manufacturer level, which greatly speeds up the development cycle.

The second option is to request a new public ANT+ profile. This is necessary, say, if Speedplay wants to convey sole pressure or pedaling speed. This requires a computer company that will receive this data and upon requestprovide them to various electronics for reading and display. In this case, Speedplay representatives will contact ANT Plus and tell you what they need.

Sport Coach

Wahoo Fitness is a brand that promotes Bluetooth connectivity and makes iPhone-centric devices. But this company, having first created its profile for Kickr trainer, is collaborating with ANT+ to create a standardized trainer profile. This will make it possible to sell various types of them and work with various online training programs. Existing Kickr trainers have been updated since the final public release, but the user will also need to update their computer or mobile device.

online calorie counter
online calorie counter

For a profile to be appreciated, programs are needed that can read its data. As a result of the collaboration between Wahoo and Kinomap, the latter's videos are fully integrated with Kickr (and eventually with other trainers). This allowed, for example, the software to change the load based on altitude or other training data. In other words, ANT+ technology allows you to synchronize effort with video and vice versa. When the app starts, it looks for compatible sensors so it knows what data to work with, so it needs to be programmed how much of the information will be fed to the virtual athlete on the screen.

Kinomap Products

According to developers, there is a demand for premium content over and above the sheer amount of user generated data. Totake advantage of it and discover more ways to use Kinomap Reply, a new open API that allows other developers to submit Kinomap content through their own third-party application. They can buy dedicated streaming hours or get unlimited content for a monthly fee, which then passes to the end user.

There is also a Kinomap Group Training model that allows you to track many people and average their efforts to train in the cycling rooms.

ant plus
ant plus

SportIIIis display

How else is this technology being used? 4iiii releases the Sportiiiis Sports Display, which syncs with the ANT+ sensors on the bike to show the current status of your workout using simple LEDs. The system mounts to any sunglasses and uses a range of red, yellow and green lights, the last of which is in the center, to indicate whether the athlete is above or below your target zone. Voice prompts from the speaker on the back provide more data including heart rate, power, speed and cadence.

heart rate monitors
heart rate monitors

Out of competition

What about Bluetooth? According to Quarq co-founder and CTO Jim Mayer, despite the hype around the relatively low power consumption of this communication standard, the only working wireless technology for real measurementspower is ANT+. Its great advantage is that one device can transmit data, and several can read. This is important for products like the Sportiiiis and others (riders probably use a bike computer as their primary display). With Bluetooth, it is connected to a phone or something, and no other device can hear this transmitter.

An example of the benefits of this solution in the real world is triathlon. You can connect your Garmin sports watch and bike computer to your power meter, and they all have access to your measurements. Another example concerns the case when the display is in the team car, but the driver wants to see the information on his computer. Probably not everyone will need it, but the main thing is that users can do it. According to research, approximately 30% of customers are transferring data to multiple devices at the same time.

what is ant in smartphone
what is ant in smartphone

Working range

Although the specs say ANT+ can reach up to 30m, it's not stated anywhere that all devices must provide this range. Most likely, sensor manufacturers will stop at a sufficient minimum, for example, the distance from the bicycle sensor to the handlebar, thereby reducing power and significantly improving the internal battery life of the device. The Kickr is mains powered so it can afford the maximum ANT+ signal. Also, the receiver on the PC is working at full capacity. Therefore, you should not be surprised when you easily receive signals from Kickr,that the online calorie counter installed on the bike stops working if the treadmill is moved a little further from the receiver.

wireless technology
wireless technology

Interference

ANT+ devices do not interfere with each other thanks to channel coding, modulation scheme and very smart signal time division. But Bluetooth, wireless home phone, smartphone WiFi, and even home WiFi also occupy the very crowded unlicensed 2.4GHz band. All of these ANT+ signals are noise and can cause errors and affect range. If there is reason to believe that the data is not true, you should look for extraneous sources of radiation (including a microwave oven). Moving the WiFi to 5GHz so that every device in the room works in that band (if it's modern enough) can help solve the problem.

A USB3 hub can also wreak havoc on an ANT+ broadcast. If there is something similar nearby, then you can try to turn it off. If reception improves, the source of interference has been found.

ant usb service
ant usb service

What is ANT+ in a smartphone?

ANT+ is implemented on Sony and Samsung mobile phones. Apple does not support this technology. Other smartphones with USB OTG, as well as PCs and Macs, require a USB adapter. In the first case, you will need to install the ANT USB Service application. Otherwise, the operation of smartphones does not differ from the functioning of other devices that support this technology. Thanks to the technique of temporaryseparation, many devices use a single 1-MHz channel. Each source broadcasts in its own time period. The message length is 150 ┬Ás, and the period between 8-byte translations varies from 0.5 Hz to 200 Hz. Errors are corrected with a 16-bit CRC. In case of interference, the channel may change. Gaussian filtered frequency modulation is used.

Accessibility

The Alliance is not blind to the fact that many smartphones do not support ANT+ technology. For this reason, new transmitters are being released that are capable of broadcasting in different formats. The 4iiiis has something similar built into the Viiiive heart rate monitor, which allows you to use the iOS app to set up your Sportiiiis device on the go. HTC, Sony and Samsung are starting to include ANT+ transceivers in their tablets, phones and laptops, and North Pole Engineering is making ANT-Wifi receivers that capture ANT+ information and relay it over Wi-Fi in a format that iOS devices can accept. To use them, a developer must embed the WASP NPE module into their application, and the fitness industry is a prime contender for its use. The cost of implementing the hardware and software of this technology is about the same as for Bluetooth.

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