Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Polar heart rate monitors on Linux

Do geeks keep fit? Well, if you are a self-trainer, or you simply like to keep fit, you may find a heart rate monitor useful. Personal heart rate monitors often are thought to output their data on a Windows machine. Can you keep fit on Linux?

The answer is: yes, but it's not that easy (but hey, mind exercise is still exercise!). In general, it seems the best supported heart rate monitors are the ones from Polar, so I will focus on that ones.

Polar Viewer is a Polar (and Ciclosport, actually) heart rate monitor application that has been now integrated into Sports Tracker from the version 2.0. It seems the best choice for heart rate monitoring on Linux: it supports a quite wide range of Polar models, is integrated in a self-training application, it's currently updated and looks polished. As the Sports Tracker page says, "you can easily create diagrams and statistics for specific time ranges and sport types." and, if you feel coding, "all the application data is stored in XML files. So it should be easy to access it with other tools or to write importers and exporters for other applications.". Note: it depends on Mono. Another GTK application similar to Polar Viewer is Polar Scope.

On the KDE side of things, I found a small application, KPersonalTrainer, that can help you sync with your Polar monitor. According to the description:

KPersonalTrainer was developed to keep track of data collected by a heart rate monitor like the Polar Watches, or just any other watch.

When you have added an exercise information is saved in a file and presented in a table. A calender is shown to give you an overview of the finished exercises.

KPersonalTrainer also has an option, Weekly Reports, where you can keep track of your progress.

This first version of the program has all the basic functions, and more advanced functions are planned for future releases, for example show diagrams of different data.

. Unfortunately, the last update is of more than a year ago, but I guess you can poke the developer if you need an update.

I found other attempts at using Polar heart rate monitors under Linux. They seem to be decidedly more hackish, but may be nonetheless interesting. A program to decode the sound data recorded by Polar S410 has been written: however keep in mind that it is a .tar.gz that needs to be compiled by hand and comes from the 2004. A Linux software for the Polar s710 that works via the serial IR interface exists and is updated. The author of this program also owns the (admittedly not so crowded) polar-linux forum.

Last but not least: if you are really into the geeky thing, why don't you build a Linux-based heart rate monitor yourself? You only need a Linux PC, a soundcard and some circuit bending skills. Circuit schematics are ready for you to download, software is provided. Happy hacking.


jes said...

is there any of the above mentioned programs that actually interfaces with the wacth it's self???

Thikumporn said...

Polar heart rate monitors is good for life because i love to running that polar heart rate monitors for control my heart rate.

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