From GPS systems to heart rate monitors, wearable tech that provides the user with data to help them train smarter is more popular than ever. The new Huawei Band 2 Pro offers a selection of interesting new features that will likely catch the eye of those looking to train smarter.
This is not Huawei's first foray into the world of wearable tech. Earlier this year it released the Watch 2 smartwatch, which offered a range of features that put it on a competitive footing with the likes of Garmin.
The new and descriptively named Band 2 and Band Pro 2 have a sleeker look, reminiscent of the FitBit and other similar slimline fitness tracker bands. The company describes it as a "sleek new workout companion" that will "track user fitness levels, interpret training data, and offer personalized running plans with real-time guidance along the way."
Plenty of features
Features include GPS tracking (built in, rather than relying on an external paired device), sleep monitoring, water resistance to five atmospheres (5ATM), which equates to roughly 50 metres and even offers a breathing coach feature.
But perhaps of more interest to the athlete intent on optimising their performance are the VO2 max and recovery features.
VO2 Max is a measure of how much oxygen your body can absorb during a maximal sustained effort, and the more you can absorb, the more efficient your body, so the more you have oxygen to fuel power from your muscles and the fitter you are.
While your genetic makeup will play a huge part in establishing your VO2 max levels, you can improve it with training, so this is a useful function to have.
Huawei bases its estimate of VO2 Max on heartbeat data and Firstbeat analytics, which is a company that provides health data analytic programmes for a wide range of companies, including many well-known wearable fitness tech brands such as Garmin, Sony, MiTac and Samsung. Firstbeat and Huawei say that the new Band 2 and Band 2 Pro watches offer 95 percent VO2 Max accuracy.
Next is the recovery feature, and giving yourself adequate recovery time is as important a feature of any training programme as the gym- or bike-based elements.
Again, powered by Firstbeat, this feature monitors your activity levels and fitness, and lets you know when you've had sufficient recovery time and it's okay to return to training.
Finally, overarching both of the features above and all the other analytics offered by the Huawei band, including calories burned, is the Training Effect feature.
It looks to be a useful tool for those trying to improve or maintain their fitness efficiently without over or under training. This feature charts your VO2 max, activity levels, heartbeat and more, and plots your progress. It then makes recommendations about whether you are maintaining good progress, under training or over training, and will alert you to the latter.
Perhaps of lesser interest to cyclists, but useful for triathletes and runners, is the Running Coach feature, which again uses Firstbeat analysed data to help guide the user through a training program for popular distances including 5k, 10k and up to marathon distances.
In a similar vein to the Training Effect feature, it will recommend activity based upon current fitness levels and goals, and incorporate periods of rest.
Those who find the measure of calories burned useful will be interested to know that the Band 2 uses a system based on heart rate to establish this, which will therefore give a personalised measure.
The Huawei Band Pro 2 is available from July 2017 although the final release date and pricing are still to be confirmed. We'll update this article with that information as soon as we get it.