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Sensors on Willem's Blog

Riding with a power meter on your bike

Installing and using the 4iiii Precision Powermeter

Aug. 28, 2019
In this post I describe my experience with installing the 4iiii Precision Powermeter on my road bike.

After I created a minimal road bike, I decided to install a power meter to find out what's it like to measure the power output of my legs. What can you learn from a power meter? Is it difficult to install? Is it worth it? Read along to find out.

Limitations of sleep tracking using a wearable

Comparison with a chest strap HR-monitor

July 16, 2019
Limitations of heart rate analyses during sleep, why you should reconsider tracking your sleep.

Sleep monitoring is a popular feature of many smartwatches and wearables. Devices like Fitbit, Withings, Apple Watch and Biostrap analyse biometrics during your sleep. These wearables are worn on the wrist and use optical sensors to capture your heart rate. I wondered how the optical sensors would compare to a high resolution chest strap HR-monitor.

Optical vs chest strap heart rate monitors

Measuring beats per minute using different sensors

July 15, 2019
Understanding the differences in common HR monitors used in wearables, smartwatches and fitness trackers

With modern wearables, smartwatches and fitness bands, it has become easy and common to measure your heart rate. There are however fundamental differences in sensor types. Some sensors capture the electrical signal from your heart while others use light to analyse the blood flowing through your vessels. If you're interested in measuring heart rate, it's good to understand these differences.

Solo around the Markermeer (211KM)

Tips to prepare, to endure and to enjoy long distance cycling

May 29, 2019
This week I took my bike for a long distance (211)KM ride around the Dutch Markermeer, solo! Read along for practical tips for long distance cycling.

This week I took my bike for a long distance (211KM) ride around the Dutch Markermeer, solo! Unlike participating in an organised event with service, support and company along the way, going solo requires a different preparation, mindset and planning. Read along for some practical tips for long distance cycling.

The best bike computer app: Cyclemeter

Get advanced ride data with a flexible setup

Apr. 30, 2019
Collect advanced bike ride data using your smartphone connected to external Bluetooth sensors and a steer mounted display.

This month I have intensified my training to become fit for this year's Fietselfstedentocht, a 235KM bicycle ride through Friesland. Over the years I have tested different kinds of bike computer setups: from dedicated (and expensive) Garmin Edge bike computers to no data at all. Eventually I came up with a flexible setup to gather advanced ride data using my smartphone, let me explain how this works.

Swimming and cycling with Apple Watch

Different activities in the workout app in watchOS

Sep. 27, 2018
This month I tested the newest watchOS while swimming and cycling.

This month Apple launched a new Apple Watch series and released an update to watchOS. The focus of the smartwatch is more and more gearing towards health and fitness. This made me curious, how well does Apple Watch work for different activities?

Listen to your body

Why I stopped using health and fitness sensors

May 17, 2018
Using health data gathered by sensors and wearables I learned to listen to my body. Now I have stopped using bluetooth sensors all together.

A good customer of mine was once a physiotherapist, he told me about people asking him to "feel their muscles" to tell them how they where doing. "Crazy!" he told me: "I can never feel better than the people themselves, if they only would listen to their body". This caused me to question the health and fitness sensors I use.

Outside the comfort zone: amateur acting

Wearing an heart rate monitor during my debut performance

Apr. 18, 2018
This month I strapped myself with sensors during a little experiment outside my comfort zone: I debuted as amateur actor!

This month I made my debut as amateur actor. I am no Hollywood star, nor do I envy to become one. But I do like crazy experiments and operating outside of my comfort zone often leads to new and refreshing insights. I took part in an amateur drama play and - in the name of science and fun - strapped myself with sensors to measure what happened to my body.

Commuting by bike

One week (240KM) on the VanMoof Electrified S

Dec. 2, 2017
One week on the VanMoof Electrified S E-bike testing it for commuting and comparing it to a normal bike.

For a few years now, I commute to work using a bicycle. I have lost more than 15KG since I stopped using my scooter. This week I tested a VanMoof Electrified S, an electric bike with an industrial, minimal design. Is it any good? How does it compare to a normal bike? Will an electric bike make you lazy? Read along to find out!

Collecting health data with Biostrap

Wearing a clinical-grade photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor for a month

Nov. 15, 2017
Wearing a clinical-grade PPG sensor for a month to collect advanced biometrics from my wrist.

Most wearables (smartwatches, fitness trackers, etc.) use very basic sensors to capture heart rate. Their signal is binary: just counting beats. Biostrap is different, instead of just checking pulses, it captures a high-fidelity PPG waveform. These waveforms are the same kind that doctors use, making me wonder what I could learn from them!

Fietselfstedentocht 2017

Cycling the 235KM bicycle tour through Friesland

June 30, 2017
Cycling the 235KM long Fietselfstedentocht through Friesland

This month I cycled the Fietselfstedentocht, a 235KM tour through Friesland. This tour brings you through various Frisian cities throughout one of the most Northern provinces of the Netherlands. The tour was first organised in 1912 and has grown to become legendary due to its history, challenge and popularity; well worthy of a blog post!

One year of cycling

GPS recording an entire year of bike rides using Garmin and Strava

Dec. 31, 2016
GPS recording an entire year of bike rides using Garmin and Strava.

One year ago I started recording all my bike rides, including commutes, short grocery trips and long Gran Fondos. I equipped my bicycles with Garmin Edge computers that recorded location (GPS), speed, cadence and my heart rate. I covered more than 7683 kilometers during 320 hours of riding. It's time to review all the data and share some photos I took along the ride!

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Me playing
Me playing "Broeder Gerard" in "Zusters in Zaken" during my debut as amateur actor
The Biostrap PPG sensor is about as thick as a watch
The Biostrap PPG sensor is about as thick as a watch
Apple Watch has an optical heart rate sensor, cleary visible in the middle of the underside
Apple Watch has an optical heart rate sensor, cleary visible in the middle of the underside
One month of Biostrap health data
One month of Biostrap health data
Around the Markermeer, through the former Dutch
Around the Markermeer, through the former Dutch "Zuider Zee"
During autumn the days became shorter and many rides where done during dusk or dawn. It's nice to see the sun come up or go down.
During autumn the days became shorter and many rides where done during dusk or dawn. It's nice to see the sun come up or go down.
Heart rates during the two performance nights, left my debut, right the second performance
Heart rates during the two performance nights, left my debut, right the second performance
Connecting the 4iiii Precision Powermeter to the Cyclemeter app
Connecting the 4iiii Precision Powermeter to the Cyclemeter app
After some long haul rides I disassembled the bike to get home.
After some long haul rides I disassembled the bike to get home.
Heatmap of my bike rides in The Netherlands. Red indicates frequently driven routes.
Heatmap of my bike rides in The Netherlands. Red indicates frequently driven routes.
The bike features a sporty city steer and an integrated touchscreen in the frame
The bike features a sporty city steer and an integrated touchscreen in the frame
This picture was taken in downtown Leiden during one of the first cold days of November.
This picture was taken in downtown Leiden during one of the first cold days of November.
Front hub electric motor
Front hub electric motor
Feeling adventurous mounting a €1659 iPhone on my steer with a rubber strap
Feeling adventurous mounting a €1659 iPhone on my steer with a rubber strap
Make sure the battery is installed and the covering door is locked
Make sure the battery is installed and the covering door is locked
Measuring heart rate at different speeds on both a normal and electric bike
Measuring heart rate at different speeds on both a normal and electric bike
Double strapping in the name of Science: Biostrap and Apple Watch on my wrist
Double strapping in the name of Science: Biostrap and Apple Watch on my wrist
The charing port is hidden behind a rubber flap.
The charing port is hidden behind a rubber flap.

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