This is an interesting development! One of the new features of the new premium Bike+ is integration with Apple’s GymKit feature, which allows for riders to use their Apple Watch as a heart rate monitor on the Bike+. If you’re curious about how it works in action, you can see our hands-on demo of this feature, and others, on the new Bike+.
As soon as this feature was announced, people immediately started asking if it would be coming to other products. In particular, people wondered about the upcoming lower cost Tread, since it’s rumored to use the same exact screen as the Bike+. On Peloton’s support page for GymKit on the Bike+, they explicitly note that “The Peloton Tread, Tread+, and Bike are not compatible with Apple GymKit.” This is of course subject to change, this only applies to the products as of time of publishing.
The widely accepted reason for this is that GymKit support usually requires there to be a NFC chip inside the screen for this to work. The original Bike is not known to have this, so support was never expected there. With regards to the lower cost Tread, it could be they keep this feature off as a differentiator between the Tread and the Tread+ (assuming the Tread+ eventually gets it), or, Peloton is saving the announcement of GymKit integration until it actually goes for sale.
However, developer Jeremy Klein, (the same one who tipped us off to Peloton’s codenames and upcoming Gymkit support) was able to demonstrate GymKit functionality working on his original Tread+. The interaction to enable GymKit works similarly to the Bike+ – you tap on the Peloton logo to start the pairing. Unlike the Bike+ where the logo is at the top of the screen, on the Tread+ it is at the bottom in the speakers.
After doing so, he was presented with a popup screen labeled “GymKit Information” on his Tread+. It showed information from the Tread+, like Speed, but also showed the same heart rate on the screen his Apple Watch was showing. Jeremy notes that while the core interaction and communication is there, the feature is not fully fleshed out or fully operational. For example, data did not start to display or update on the popup window until the Tread+ belt was moving. Additionally, while the popup for GymKit Information displays the heart rate from the watch, once you leave that screen and go into your run, the usual spot for the heart rate is not displaying the heart rate from the watch. However, this seems like a software update to fix that at this point, as the core GymKit communication is happening, as demonstrated by the GymKit popup screen.
Jeremy shared a debug log from the Tread+ as well showing the communication. In it, you can see it reading the heart rate twice from the watch.
09-10 17:38:21.964 10274 10287 I Gymkit : parserGymkitData() type=1 ,len=3 ,flag=0, value=62 ,index=5 ,parameter=15
09-10 17:38:21.964 10274 10287 V Gymkit : **Heart Rate:62, flag:0
09-10 17:38:21.964 10274 10287 I Gymkit : parserGymkitData() type=2 ,len=3 ,flag=0, value=0 ,index=10 ,parameter=10
09-10 17:38:21.964 10274 10287 V Gymkit : **Active Energy:0, flag:0
09-10 17:38:21.964 10274 10287 I Gymkit : parserGymkitData() type=3 ,len=3 ,flag=0, value=0 ,index=15 ,parameter=5
09-10 17:38:21.964 10274 10287 V Gymkit : **Total Energy:0, flag:0
09-10 17:38:21.964 10274 10287 I Gymkit : parserGymkitData() type=4 ,len=3 ,flag=0, value=63 ,index=20 ,parameter=0
09-10 17:38:21.964 10274 10287 V Gymkit : **Avg Heart rate:63, flag:0
09-10 17:38:22.412 10274 12250 V Gymkit : send Gymkit Enhance Speed Characteristic
09-10 17:38:22.415 10274 10286 I Gymkit : onNotificationSent() status=0
09-10 17:38:22.416 10274 10287 I Gymkit : onNotificationSent() status=0
09-10 17:38:22.839 10274 10286 I Gymkit : 42:7C:24:E9:FA:DA
09-10 17:38:22.839 10274 10286 V Gymkit : Disconnected from device
09-10 17:38:22.871 10274 10274 I Gymkit : onPause()
09-10 17:38:23.044 10274 10274 I Gymkit : onDestroy()
09-10 17:38:23.051 10274 10274 I Gymkit : closeLeCocSocket()
09-10 17:38:23.051 10274 10274 I Gymkit : stopAdvertising() name:Treadmill-I3Eu8XGBGrk=
Other evidence within the logs shows that the GymKit integration is made possible by a NFC chip contained somewhere in the Tread+ screen. Additionally, the FCC filing for the original Tread tablet+ shows the NFC chip in one of the images.
So if the Tread+ has the hardware needed to support GymKit, does that mean it’s a matter of time until that functionality is enabled? We now have to wait and see. The good news is that if Peloton does decide to turn it on, all existing Tread+ users should be able to get it without any hardware upgrades being needed, as the NFC chip is already there!
Updated 9/12 to provide link to FCC filing for original Tread+ tablet with NFC chip.