Beeminder ♥ Garmin

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
By bsoule

Garmin wearable quantified self devices

Another official integration! We’re so excited to be integrating with Garmin, one of the biggest and oldest names in wearable computey things! As a welcome to Garmin users new to Beeminder, we’ll start with our usual recap. If you’re just eager to get your beloved Garmin device connected to Beeminder, you can skip all this and start using Beeminder and Garmin together!

Beeminder Reprise

You’re probably here because you either know and love Beeminder, or you’re using a Garmin vívo* device, or a Garmin Forerunner. Since this is Beeminder turf we’ll start with a quick explanation of what Beeminder’s all about. (For the full Beeminder story, you could start with our inaugural blog post about akrasia and self-binding, a.k.a. commitment devices.)

What’s special about Beeminder is that we combine Quantified Self — i.e., self-tracking data collection and visualization — with commitment contracts. If you don’t know anything about commitment contracts, it works like this with Beeminder: We plot your progress along a Yellow Brick Road to your goal and if you go off track, we charge you money. Long-time Beeminder users find that those stings (get it?) are well worth it for all the awesomeness we induce the rest of the time. But if the thought of having to pay money is too scary, that’s perfect: you’ll be very motivated to keep all your datapoints on your yellow brick road. We don’t even ask for a credit card until the first time you go off track. If you never do go off track, Beeminder is free forever.


If you’re a Quantified Self nerd, which, reading this blog you probably are, then you’re probably already familiar with Garmin. I personally have been wearing a Garmin vívofit for months now and absolutely love it. In fact, it’s the first activity tracker I’ve worn consistently since I accidentally sent an early Fitbit through the wash 4 years ago. The vívofit, by contrast, never needs charging (it uses a watch battery) and is waterproof. Which means I simply wear it, let it automatically sync to Beeminder, and never otherwise have to think about it. Also it tells time! Right on my wrist! Living in the future is grand.

Getting Started

So here’s how it works using your Garmin with Beeminder.

If you use a Garmin Forerunner, then we can track your total time spent training, or we can track your total mileage. If you have a vívofit or any device in the Vivo-family, we can track either your total daily steps, or your total daily sleep. When you visit the Garmin landing page you’ll first authorize with Garmin so that we will be able to read your data, and get notified when you upload new data. Then you’ll select the type of Garmin device you use, and the type of goal you’d like to set up. Every time Garmin gets an update from your device, we get the new data from them. So the next time you go for a run or a ride or whatever, we’ll add it to your Beeminder graph for you. Voila. Beeminder will send you reminders if you’re approaching the edge of your road, so if you haven’t been doing enough you’ll get notified. And if you fall behind, we’ll charge you money (or ask you to add a credit card so that we can charge you next time).

UPDATE: One caveat about sleep tracking: while Garmin auto-detects sleep on the vívofit bands, they only show it to us as sleep time if you actually put the device in sleep mode. We haven’t figured out a way around this yet, so just keep that in mind if you want to beemind sleep with your Garmin.

Button to create a Garmin goal

UPDATE: If you’d like to buy a vívofit or vívosmart or vívoactive you could use our affiliate link (thank you again to Garmin!).


Thanks to Michelle Garrison and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, about which we’ll blog more later. Launching Garmin integration is only step one in an elaborate plot. For Science.

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  • Jon

    Can anyone verify that this integration works with the Garmin Vivosmart? I set up a new step goal and it does not seem to be retrieving my step data yet.

  • Daniel Reeves

    It’s expected that it doesn’t show any data from before you authorized Beeminder. For other integrations we can fetch historical data (or at least the past day or week) but with Garmin we only get data from the moment you signed up onwards. So go jump around and sync again! :)

  • Jon

    That’s it. Working as you describe. Thanks for the explanation and quick reply!

  • C

    Does this work with all three of their devices?

  • bsoule

    Yes! All the Vivo devices, and with Garmin’s Forerunner gps trackers too.

  • JJ

    love, love, love this integration! Thank you so much!