Jump in the pool: Swim AR device promises to supercharge your front crawl



Lido season is upon us (when the rain eventually stops) but the smartest swimmers aren’t watching the clock or stopping to glance at their Apple Watch.

This year there’s a hi-tech approach to counting your lengths: a holographic augmented reality gizmo that fits on your goggles and shows you your metrics in real time.

Here’s a deep dive.

Heads-up

Swim AR’s new device has been years in the making by a team of London designers and (finally) takes seamless fitness tracking underwater.

The nifty gadget attaches to your favourite pair of goggles to provide a transparent display of your metrics in real time — distance, laps, time and split time, thanks to an in-built accelerometer, gyrometer and compass measure (you can set the pool length using buttons on the device).

By collecting all this data Swim AR can then work out your pace over 100 metres — a key piece of information for coaches. 

The device attaches on to any swimming goggles (Swim AR)

Into the clear

Swim AR is essentially Google Glass for swimmers, minus the eye-strain issues. The gadget features a high-definition holographic technology called Sony SmartEyeglass, which beams live data directly into your line of sight without blocking the view. 

When tested, “it displayed graphics with the brightness and see-through transmittance suited to pool and open-water swimming,” according to designer Mark Hester — “far superior to anything we’d seen before”.

Going freestyle

Early trials proved GPS is an important tool for swimmers.

Not everyone wants to spend their time pacing up and down a pool, says Hester, and to allow for this he and his team worked with the University of Kent to reconfigure the electronics to integrate location-tracking into the device — crucial for open-water swimming.

Happily, this redesign also gives Swim AR scope to include key features such as Bluetooth functionality, which allows data to be downloaded wirelessly.

How Swim AR’s stats appear in the pool (Swim AR)

Lengths ahead 

Hester is aware of the competition — most attempts at similar devices have ended up in choppy waters. Lithuanian start-up Ovao is having a go with a planned goggle attachment that flashes colour-coded feedback in real-time, as has California-based Instabeat — but both companies are struggling to get into the pool. 

South Korean start-up Zwim hit its funding goal on Indiegogo in 2017 but has gone quiet — perhaps something to do with a lack of uptake for a pair of smart goggles, as opposed to an add-on to your current pair. “People spend a lot of time trying to find the right pair of goggles,” says Hester, whose team have been retrofitting their gadget to dozens of goggle styles. “It’s not easy.”

£1,000 (early-bird price), swimar.co.uk

 

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