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ANT+ is a managed ANT network that uses ‘device profiles’ to define how to send data over the network in a consistent way. The target applications for the ANT+ managed network include sport, wellness, and home health. Of course in reality the ANT+ managed network is made up of many smaller networks spread around the world; these networks exist wherever a group of ANT+ sensors and receivers can be found, and are separated simply by the physical distance between them.
In a nutshell: ANT+ devices use the ANT+ network key to access the ANT+ network, and they implement at least one of the ANT+ device profiles. At a high level that’s really all there is to it.
Each ANT+ device profile contains the network rules relevant to a specific use case e.g. Speed & Distance monitors. These include settings for the channel parameters, the format of the data transmitted, and other specific communication mechanisms for the interaction between two devices.
Any ANT+ device that implements a particular device profile is interoperable with any other ANT+ device implementing the same device profile. This allows an ecosystem of interoperable devices to be formed, as illustrated below.
For example an ANT+ heart rate strap (using the ANT+ Heart Rate Monitor device profile) can be used with any ANT+ watch that also implements the ANT+ Heart Rate Monitor device profile. The heart rate monitor can be interchanged for any other ANT+ heart rate monitor, from any manufacturer.
It is common for display devices to implement several device profiles at once e.g. the watch might also implement the speed and distance monitor profile.
If you need to check which device profiles an existing product supports, or vice versa, then use the Product Directory.