The rise of augmented reality has enabled tech companies to create some of the most hyped-up eyewear the world has ever seen.
After showing half-baked prototypes, some of the futuristic glasses were quickly defunct like the consumer-ready version of Google Glass. Others remain in development mode, like the ones Apple filed patents for earlier this year.
While major tech companies figure out how to deliver head-mounted tech that allows consumers to communicate with one another as they navigate the world, plenty of startups have entered the space, pairing discreet see-through displays with fitness-tracking technology so that consumers can see floating performance metrics during cardio exercise.
On Tuesday, the Vancouver-based startup FORM unveiled a pair of premium swim goggles that have AR integrated into the lens and an onboard computer that uses artificial intelligence to track metrics.
The company's $199 wearable gadget makes the underwater activity more visually engaging and enables consumers to maintain good form while tracking what's happening inside their bodies.
With wrist-worn wearables like Apple Watch and Fitbit, swimmers have to pause or alter their technique in order to check their fitness performance. FORM's founder Dan Eisenhardt says the new swim goggles solve this fundamental issue.
“The idea for FORM came about many years ago, but we are only now entering a time when technology lets us deliver this experience seamlessly in a premium pair of swim goggles,” said Eisenhardt, whose previous AR eyewear company Recon Instruments sold to Intel in 2015.
FORM enables both swimmers and coaches to be more in tune with what’s happening in the water as the goggles intuitively start tracking the first stroke and rests are autodetected.
Metrics include calories burned, distance traveled, split times and stroke rate, among others, and the data floats in the swimmer's line of sight. It also gives swimmers the freedom to customize exactly which metrics are displayed on the lens and when each metric appears: while swimming, after turns, or during rest.
"When I took the goggles to the pool the first time, I had a bit of a snooty, elite swimmer mentality, thinking this is going to be a bit much," said Scott Dickens, a former Olympic swimmer who is now FORM's Director of Strategic Partnerships.
He said that he was pleased when he realized that the device wasn't obstructive.