Bluetooth gets physical with new fitness certifications

The Blutooth Special Internet Group has seen the coming quantified-self revolution and has released two new certifications aimed at devices that track running and cycling. The group, which certifies Bluetooth accessories such as your headset or the radio that connects your wireless keyboard to your computer, two years ago began addressing the need for a lower-power version of the standard to connect fitness monitors such as a Nike+ FuelBand.

The two new standards are approved for sensors that will measure elements such as running cadence, stride length, total distance, or cycling speed, distance and pedal cadence to Bluetooth-enabled devices like smartphones, sports watches and cycling computers. Presumably this will boost accuracy in fitness monitoring devices. For example, some devices have a hard time adjusting their calories or effort metrics for running because they don’t take into account a longer or shorter running stride when compared to walking.

Unfortunately, until the emergence of Bluetooth Low Energy makers of the Fitbit (see disclosure) and even the Nike Run profile had to resort to proprietary connection that had a lower energy profile. The net result is those devices require specialized dongles to connect to a computer as opposed to just automatically interfacing with the Bluetooth chip already on board. Hopefully as Bluetooth Low Energy goes mainstream, and the SIG adds more accurate sensor profiles to the Bluetooth ecosystem, those who still have proprietary standards will be more inclined to switch. After all, having your fitness devices on a common standard is a win for consumers.

Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.