One of the most prominent new features of the Garmin Edge 810 GPS cyclecomputer is the ability to let family or friends (or coaches, for better or worse), track a rider's location, speed, heart rate, and elevation in real time. Even better, real-time tracking is free. But getting real-time tracking online takes some setup steps, and knowing how to start tracking when you begin your ride. Here's how to get going with tracking.
You need three things to use the feature: the Edge 810 of course, a free membership in Garmin's Connect online planning and training log service, and an installed Garmin Connect Mobile app available for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for Android devices. You'll find the Connect Mobile app useful for other purposes, in addition to live tracking, so it's great to have on your smartphone.
You will want to sign in to your Garmin Connect Mobile app with the exact same sign-in information you used to establish the online account. You don't need to do anything further to sync up and coordinate the info that will flow between the app and the online service, a nice touch on Garmin's part, software design-wise.
Next, turn on your Edge 810, turn on your smartphone's Bluetooth capability, if it isn't already, and Bluetooth-sync your phone with the Edge. On an iPhone, that means going into "Settings" then turning Bluetooth on, and waiting for "Devices" to appear on the same screen. Tap on Edge 810 when it appears, and watch for the connection to be acknowledged. When a phone is Bluetooth-synced with the Edge 810, the universal Bluetooth symbol will appear at the top of the Edge display when on the home screen.
At this point, you're almost ready to begin the live-tracking session. Go to the menu of your Garmin Connect app, and select "LiveTrack" from the left menu. You will need to use the "invite recipients" functionality to invite someone to live track you. At this point, you may type in the e-mail address or multiple addresses of those you'd like to invite, or better yet, give the app access to your smartphone address book, so you can call up e-mail addresses by contact name. When you invite recipients, they receive an e-mail that reads "An invitation from (your name). You're invited to watch my (live activity name you've chosen). You may also add personalized messages to this invitation. Of course it's best if your trackers are expecting to hear from you are at a computer monitor where they can watch your event. The LiveTrack events are actually not stored, so if they go online after you are finished, they will only see an event-expired message. This is real-time tracking, after all.
At this point, you will touch the "Start LiveTrack" icon in the app LiveTrack screen, and the session begins. All you need to do at this point is start the road or mountain bike ride with the "start" button on the Edge 810, and the LiveTrack session is underway. While you are on the road or trail, the Edge 810 presents you with its normal display.
But back home, or wherever they are located, or whatever browser-enable device they are using, your live track watchers get an interesting perspective. The special Garmin Connect online LiveTrack browser window shows your location as a blue dot, and your track as a familiar blue track line. In addition, the window displays a time-flow graph with different-colored lines representing heart rate, elevation, and speed. A numeric display shows speed parameters, time, distance, and total elevation gain for the ride. It's an impressive array.
In addition to the LiveTrack window, you may set up the Connect app to post your stats at regular intervals to Facebook and/or Twitter.
Garmin's LiveTrack is an interesting addition to your training technology options that may be especially useful in special situations. It's not something I would use routinely, but could be an amazing way to share a big ride or race experience with far-flung friends, family, or coaches.