CONTRIBUTOR

Fitness wearables and technology company Form unveiled the second generation of its augmented reality (AR)-enabled swim goggles, the Smart Swim 2, which run $249 and are available worldwide.

The updated eye protectors boast the introduction of an integrated heart rate monitor, built into the goggles, that measures accurate heart rate from a swimmer’s temple.

The SwimStraight digital compass offers orientation for those engaged in open water swimming, while updates to HeadCoach Workouts now tailor workouts for the user after every swim.

The goggles also feature enhanced hydrodynamics thanks to a 15% reduction of the tech pack, and improved fit options are available through updated proprietary eye seals. A strap with new anchor points contributes to better on-face stability.

Form CEO Dan Eisenhardt pointed to the temple-based heart rate sensor and SwimStraight technology as examples of R&D-led product development.

“It was clear that customers wanted these features to enhance their swim training and performance, but the path to get there was not so straightforward, requiring several years of research, development, testing and validation,” he explained.

For the integrated heart rate sensor, the company wanted to understand the optimal position on the goggle to obtain the best HR signal, which provides the strongest signal for the least distraction to the swimmer.

“We also developed a custom heart rate algorithm, which was important to minimize motion artifacts during swimming, to return a highly accurate heart rate signal where swimmers can confidently leverage its real-time accuracy,” Eisenhardt said.

He said it took more than two years of design iterations, followed by thousands of beta testing swims to reach a point where the integrated heart rate system is completely unobtrusive and 97% comparable to a chest-based electrocardiogram (ECG) measurement.

“The SwimStraight open water feature to date is integral for a triathlete to achieve their highest potential in open water swimming, keeping the swimmer on track to cover the least distance for the same speed and effort,” he said.

The concept itself is simple, showing the swimmer their “heading” through the goggle display, so they can see in real-time if they begin to veer off course or away from their target landmark.

This technology leverages a 3D magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope, combined with custom sensor-fusion algorithms, to accurately determine and display the swimmer’s heading during freestyle.

The Smart Swim 2 goggles have garnered race approval for use by participants from organizations such as World Triathlon and USA Triathlon, as well as organizations and events series including the Professional Triathletes Organization (PTO) T100 Triathlon World Tour and Supertri.

This means athletes can now access metrics–as they have been able to when cycling and running for years–on the swim and can now apply this data to swim smarter when out on a course in a race.

“It’s fantastic to have received race approval accreditation,” Eisenhardt said. “Seeing our innovations being able to be leveraged in competition at the elite and age group levels is incredible.”

He added working with professional athletes is one of the many great ways that the company can test and iterate the technology to ensure it meets the demands of as many different swimmers of all abilities as possible.

“We’ve established longstanding relationships with athletes like Lionel Sanders, who we first met with in 2019, and who has been swimming with Form ever since,” Eisenhardt said.

Kristian Blummenfelt and Hayden Wilde, who are targeting the Olympics this year, have been putting Form’s latest goggles through their paces from a development perspective as they push themselves in their training to be ready for their main goal this summer.

Eisenhart noted the company regularly receives feedback on both hardware and software features from all athletes and works closely to iterate on this feedback–something that was certainly the case with the SwimStraight feature.

“The expectations, stress, and strain that elite athletes put their gear and technology through is a perfect testing ground when developing new products, solutions, and features,” he said.