Maffetone “Ear-Based” HR Monitor

  • Creator
  • #51242

    It appears to be the consensus that wrist-based HR monitors are inaccurate to the point that they do not provide sufficiently useful information for serious training. Do we KNOW if Maffetone’s “ear-based” HR monitor is as good as or nearly as good as chest strap HR monitors? MAF HR+ Earbuds

  • Participant
    LindsayTroy on #51444

    I had never heard of ear-based HR monitors, so I googled them, pretty cool actually! Searching pub med, I found the following:

    This one found: “The Jabra earbud had a mean absolute percent error (MAPE) of 3.14 ± 6.13%, and a high correlation with the benchmark, r(c) = 0.939, performing well in all three conditions.”

    This one found: “Garmin Fenix 5 (MAPE = 13%, LOA = -32 to 162, rC = 0.32), Jabra Elite Sport (MAPE = 23%, LOA = -464 to 503, rC = 0.38”

    And here is a systematic review that concluded: “Although non-optical methods may have the advantage of no light source and reduced power consumption, the performed studies suggested the feasibility of HR/PR measurements only under basic resting conditions in small groups of subjects. Sensitivity to user’s motion may impair performance under exercise conditions, requiring further optimization of the electronics and sensor placements within the earpiece, and noise reduction in the readout circuitry. On the other hand, methods allowing to acquire an ECG, instead of a pulsatile signal, suggested the possibility to trace cardiac activity beyond HR estimation.”

    My take away is: theres a lot of variability but it seems like they’re fairly comparable to wrist-based HR monitors. Which is to say, better than nothing but not super reliable.

    hexclimber on #51474

    Thanks for doing the footwork on this, Lindsay. I had never heard of this modality, either, but I thought it might be preferable to a chest strap, which, in my understanding, is the gold standard for portable HRMs. That said, I’m not big into plugging up my ears when I’m training, especially when I’m off-piste.

    Anonymous on #51543

    @lindsaytroy: Do you know what the MAPE is for a chest strap?

    Reed on #51560

    Chest strap heart rate monitors are more like >99.5% correlated with measurements via an ECG:

    LindsayTroy on #51563

    Translating @Reed’s link into MAPE, since MAPE is a measure of relative error, the chest strap would be close to 0%.

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