Friday, April 28, 2006

Bones in Motion BiM Active Mobile Service Comparison Review with Garmin Forerunner 205: Accuracy and Data

I found the accuracy of Bones in Motion's BiM Active service to be pretty good. Distances recorded by the mobile service usually averaged around 2 percent less than the distance calculated by my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS personal training watch.

For example, my first run included a loop around the local country club golf course. It was early in the morning, the course was closed, and a number of holes rise up into the hills surrounding my town. There are some great views and quiet and remote sections. My 205 measured the run at 9.34 miles. SportTracks, the donationware GPS-enabled exercise logbook PC application that I use, calculated the run at 9.32 miles by analyzing the GPS waypoints from the 205 and crunching the numbers using their complex algorithms.

BiM active recorded the run at 9.06 miles. Details of the run, including map, charts and splits, can be found here at BiM Active's free blog for members . Bones In Motion mentions that the ability to publish activity data to external blogs is coming soon.

On another run, I took the cell phone on the same forested and canyoned trail that demonstrated the Garmin Forerunner 205's superior GPS accuracy as compared to the Forerunner 201. The trail was muddy in many places, due to 25+ days of rain in the month of March and the first half of April, but the weather was nice and sunny for a change. BiM Active again did very well and actually continued recording my distance on the out portion of the fire trail even though I was out of the Sprint coverage area for about a mile or so. At the turn around point at about 4.8 miles, BiM Active was only off on the low side by about 2 percent.

However, without knowing I was outside of Sprint's coverage, I decided to suspend the service so I could take the above photo of the trail with the Samsung A920's camera. When I tried to resume BiM Active, I couldn't because I was out of the Sprint coverage area, but after running back for a mile, I was able to resume and all went well for the rest of the run. If I didn't suspend BiM Active at the turn around, it probably would have recorded the entire run, even though the BiM Active FAQ states certain cell phones won't record outside of the coverage area. Of course, YMMV (your mileage may vary) so make sure you have Sprint Nextel coverage in the areas you plan to use the service and the right cell phone.

My latest run with BiM Active was fairly uneventful and the mobile service recorded it at 9.92 miles while the Forerunner 205 said 10.07 miles and SportTracks calculated it to be 10:06 miles. I also uploaded the same run from my 205 to MotionBased, which measured it at 10.09 miles. Less than 2 percent difference. Details of the run recorded by BiM Active can be found here so you can compare the two online services.

I wish I was able to provide more detailed analysis and compare the routes from BiM Active and my 205, but currently BiM Active's website only allows users to upload activities from other GPS devices from Garmin and Timex. So if you like the BiM Active online service and have a GPS monitoring device then you're in luck.

However, if you prefer a PC app, like SportTracks, then you can't export your BiM Active activities to your PC just yet. The folks at Bones in Motion told me they are working to add this feature to the BiM Active website so you can export activities into GPX and/or XML format and play with the data in other apps/services, such as SportTracks, Google Earth, etc. In my opinion this will make the service even more appealing.

Here are links to the rest of the review:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,