The major new feature of the Suunto 9 is its FusedTrack technology.
Data, And More Data
It takes data from its various sensors – accelerometer and compass, certainly – to calculate what track was taken between two GPS fix points, and thus save on battery.
This may sound easy enough, but it apparently took a new GPS chipset from Sony to even be able to integrate these different “track” data sources. And it isn’t easy.
Arm swings must be taken into account, for example. Compass errors or the sudden, different acceleration from a stumble are likely to be problematic.
A FusedTrack Comparison
At the time of this writing, the Suunto 9 is announced, but not yet released.
Some bloggers/reviewers already have it (and have begun to publish things as analyses of accuracy and altitude measurement). The firmware is still somewhat pre-release, however, as these things always are…
So, I want you to understand fully well that the following is not an accuracy analysis, just a glimpse.
There are issues you should notice, parts of the track where things did get off course.
But compare it, if you must, to the pure GPS track I got from an Ambit3 Peak when it was at a similar state in its firmware development… In that respect, the Suunto9 is far ahead!
So, without further ado, here is a little preview of what the Suunto 9 can do.
With “Performance” battery mode, hence best GPS, and with “Endurance” battery mode using “Good” GPS and FusedTrack:
If you’d rather take a deep dive into a map (well, have a look):
The difference in the tracks (distances):
Performance Mode on the Suunto 9: 5.42 km
vs. GPS Track POD, 1 sec GPS: 5.30 Km
for a difference of 124.0 m or 2.3%
Endurance Mode on the Suunto 9: 5.62 Km
vs. GPS Track POD, 1 sec GPS: 5.34 Km
for a difference of 286.1 m or 5.2%
Imagine that with further updates and refinement of the algorithm, and running for hours upon hours…
Frankly, I can’t wait for a chance to try out the “Ultra” mode on a nice long hike that will take me over more than 100 km and a day.
A Suunto Spartan Ultra could last equally as long there (also with an “Ok” GPS), but how a track looks when GPS records every 60 seconds with nothing in between (on a Spartan Ultra) or every 120 seconds with FusedTrack active in between (on the Suunto 9) will be tremendously interesting!
If you want to try the Suunto 9 for yourself, here is an option to get it from REI via an affiliate link that also supports me a little: