Knowledge Base/Strava Knowledge Base/iPhone & iOS mobile app

iPhone and External Biometric Sensors or Displays

Danno Brown
posted this on March 19, 2012 11:50 AM

The Strava app for iPhone supports various biometric sensors and external displays; see the information below for details about our supported devices and how to use them.

To get started using your biometric sensors, you'll first need to enable the connection to the channel on which your device communicates.  In most cases this will mean enabling Bluetooth on your iPhone 4S or newer by going to your phone's Settings page and toggling Bluetooth to ON.  If you're using an ANT+ device, you'll need to plug in your ANT+ receiver - currently our only supported model is the Wahoo ANT+ Key.

Next, you need to tell the Strava app which devices you're using.  To do this, tap the 'More' button at the bottom-right of the Strava app screen, and select Settings (shown below left).  Then, tap the External Devices option from the Settings page (shown below center).

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From the Devices page (shown above right), you'll be able to enable or disable the use of your phone's Bluetooth connection or ANT+ key (if available), as well as enable or disable individual sensors.  You can also see what devices are already connected, and learn more about compatible sensors and other advice and tips.  Enabling a specific sensor will prompt the Strava app to search for a connection to sensors of that type.

If you want your iPhone to 'forget' a device you've already paired, you can tap the Edit button at the top-right of the Devices page, which will bring you to the device management page, shown below.  Tap the red 'minus' button next to the sensor you'd like to remove, then tap the Delete button that will appear to the right of that sensor.  When you're finished, tap the Done button at the top-right of the screen.  In some cases, this can help when you are having issues connecting a device.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

 

What is a Biometric Sensor?

A Biometric Sensor is an external hardware device that connects to the Strava iOS app to provide additional performance data for the Strava activity recording process. The Strava iOS app supports heart rate monitors, cadence sensors, power meters, and external displays. 

Which Biometric Sensors are compatible with the Strava app on my phone?

The Strava iPhone app supports 2 protocols for connecting Biometric Sensors:

  • Bluetooth Low Energy: Currently, the iPhone 4S and above support this protocol. When running on an iPhone 4S or newer, the Strava app can detect and connect to Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) enabled Biometric Sensors.
  • ANT+: With a third-party adaptor key (Wahoo ANT+ key or case only at this time which is only compatible with iPhone 3G, 4, 4S) plugged in to your device , Strava can detect and connect to most ANT+ enabled Biometric Sensors.

Protocols available by phone type:

  • iPhone 3gs: ANT+ with Wahoo ANT+ key only 
  • iPhone 4: ANT+ with Wahoo ANT+ key only 
  • iPhone 4s: Bluetooth Low Energy or ANT+ with Wahoo ANT+ key
  • iPhone 5, 5c, 5s: Bluetooth Low Energy only

Is regular Bluetooth connectivity supported?

No, connections to Biometric Sensors via regular Bluetooth (not Bluetooth LE) are not supported by the Strava iPhone app at this time.

Do you support speed and/or cadence data gathered from power meters?

The Strava iPhone app does not gather speed or cadence data gathered from power meters at this time. 

Do you use the speed data gathered from speed sensors?

The Strava iPhone app does not use speed data gathered from speed sensors. Please see article: How Distance Is Calculated for more details.

How can I ensure I have a strong connection between my iOS device and my Biometric Sensors?

The best way to ensure a strong connection is to provide an unobstructed path between your iOS device and the Biometric Sensors to which you are connecting. Both ANT+ and Bluetooth LE transmit signals to devices at a frequency of 2.4GHz, which does not pass through water very well. Because the human body is mostly water, you may encounter data transmission issues if your body is obstructing the path. To work around this, consider 1) mounting your device where it will have an unobstructed path to your Biometric Sensors or 2) putting your device in a jersey side pocket (rather than center pocket). 

Connection Issues

When the Strava iPhone app is connected to sensors but does not receive data for several minutes it will indicate so by showing the sensor icons on a red background. This error state will persist until you reconnect to new sensors, for example by toggling individual sensors in the Biometric Sensors settings page, or when you start recording an activity. 

Searching for sensors

The Strava iPhone app will search for new sensors any time the New Activity tab is selected, for up to 2 minutes. The app will first search for sensors to which it has already connected (if applicable), then for any other sensors.

The app will also initiate sensor searches when you visit the Biometric Sensors setting page. If it is already connected to a particular type of sensor it will not connect to new sensors of that type. In order to force searching for a particular sensor type you can toggle that particular sensor off and on again in the settings.

If you want to the Strava iPhone app to forget about particular sensors you can go to the Biometric Sensors setting page and press the Edit button then delete individual devices. This will not prevent the app from connecting to these devices however it will prevent the app from preferring those devices.

Where can I buy Biometric Sensors and/or adaptors that work with Strava?

Strava currently supports peripheral connectivity through the devices produced by Wahoo Fitness. iPhone models 4S and newer can leverage Wahoo's Bluetooth LE peripherals.  This includes the Blue HR, the Blue SC, the RFLKT, and the ANT+ Key.  Wahoo's ANT+ adaptors will enable Strava to communicate with most 3rd party ANT+ heart rate monitors, cadence sensors, and power meters - including the Gamin Premium Heart Rate Monitor sold in the Strava Shop.  Keep in mind that because it doesn't use Bluetooth LE, the ANT+ key will work with the iPhone 4 as well as the 4S.

The Polar H7 heart rate sensor and the Polar Stride Sensor footpod work when paired with an iPhone 4S or newer. 

The Magellan Echo Bluetooth External Display watch is supported for use on Strava.

The Stages Bluetooth Power Meter is supported for use on Strava.

 

 
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