It is no secret that the best sports watches on the market are capable of tracking, speed, distance, pace and often much more.
Speed and distance tracking can be achieved with a number of different technologies.
Popular pedometer watches like the Tech 4 O Accelerator Running watch operate on a simple pendulum clicker that relies on the walker’s hip movement to count steps. Unfortunately, mechanical pedometers end up counting a lot of non-walking movements, resulting in inconsistent measurements. While the top models can produce good results, pedometers are generally the least accurate way of measuring speed and distance.
Foot Pod devices like Polar’s S1 device works on inertial sensors that measure the acceleration of the S1 foot pod more than 1000 times per second and use this data with advanced algorithms to calculate foot angles and gait velocity. The result is far more accurate than a pedometer, but requires calibration to your individual stride. It also has an advantage over a GPS system in that it can function indoors and around trees and buildings, where a GPS requires an open view of the sky.
A GPS tracking device calculates your exact location on earth by linking to three or more GPS satellites that orbit the earth. By measuring changes in location, your speed, distance and pace can be calculated extremely accurately.
GPS sports watches tend to be more expensive than a pedometer or foot pod and suffer around large objects that obstruct the GPS satellite signal. But unlike other devices, GPS watches tend to be more accurate on uneven surfaces than a foot pod and allow you to record your route information that can be downloaded into a computer mapping software application, and waypoints along your course for backtracking.