Form’s smart swimming goggles will be refined for 2024

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In 2019, Form launched a pair of goggles with a built-in display that shows real-time data as you swim. Given how many things the company got around for the first time, the word of the day for its successor, the Smart Swim 2, is refinement. But a handful of incremental improvements also mean there’s no screaming from the rooftops to upgrade.

Smart Swim is a pair of fancy swim goggles with a chunky box (“tech pack”) attached to an eye cup and a crystal in the corresponding lens. Plus, you can see your stats like your heart rate, distance, split time and more on the Waveguide display.

Much about the Swim 2 is carried over from the first model, including the two-button user interface, display resolution (72 x 40) and many more internals. Adding a heart rate sensor (which the company says has been tweaked to work well in water) has reduced battery life from 16 to 12 hours. But I’m not sure that’s a real problem unless you’re planning English Channel swimming.

Instead, the form nips and tucks the existing model, with the tech pack being 15 percent smaller than its predecessor. Comfort and fit have also been worked on, with longer, more adjustable straps and a wider range of interchangeable nose bridges. Oh, and there were some features that were built into the first-generation hardware that have remained dormant until now. More on that later.

History

Form founder Dan Eisenhart was on the ground floor of the wearable craze of 2010. His last company, Recon Instruments, was making head-mounted displays long before Google pushed Glass out the door. After initially considering, and then abandoning plans to create a swimming-focused wearable, he launched a pair of smart goggles for skiing in partnership with Oakley before creating a cycling-focused unit called Jet under his own name.

These early successes caught the attention of Intel when it was looking for the next big thing in computing. He bought Recon, among other wearables companies, with a smart business strategy… to run them all into the ground before cutting his losses a few years later. Once Recon was busted, Eisenhardt and his colleagues returned to the product they had originally set up to follow Recon, a head-worn swimming display.

Build Smart Swim 2 as well as its bigger, older predecessor.

Photo by Daniel Cooper / Engadget

in use

It’s not a complicated process to get started once you’ve downloaded the app and paired it with your goggles. Turn it on by long pressing the power button and cycle through the options menu with another button. You can choose from a pool, open water or swim spa – available at certain partner gyms. If you’re in the pool, you can then select its length from a list of standard options and hit start with the headwear automatically tracking your pace.

If I’m honest, not a huge amount has changed since the first version in terms of operation and usage. If you want more details, you can go back and read my original review which will stand you in good stead. The only difference, really, is that you get your heart rate on display. And, if memory serves, the markers that show you when the headgear thinks you’re swimming and when you’re resting are clearer and more regularly updated. But it really is.

Now, remember when I referenced that the first generation form had some extra gear on board that was left idle? SwimStraight is making its debut on the Swim 2 but will also be coming to first-generation hardware — as long as you sign up for a premium app subscription. You see, the tech pack has a magnetometer that can act as a compass, and will give you a live directional bearing as you swim. When activated, the bottom half of the display transforms into a compass view, showing you a relatively accurate heading.

Swimstrat is designed for open water swimmers who would otherwise rely on landmarks to chart their course. For example, if you’re lapping in a lake or offshore, you can break your stroke every few minutes to make sure you’re in line with the buoy. But the company showed me GPS telemetry data that shows these intermittent corrections move swimmers too far. Whereas, if you always have a live compass bearing in your eye, you will be able to keep more or less on your intended path.

I’m not going to lie, given the low-ish tech nature of the hardware, this feature impressed me more than any business. Throw your head around and you may experience a slight delay as the compass catches up to your orientation but otherwise it’s very fast.

Headcoach, meanwhile, launched last fall on the first-generation Goggles and similarly placed behind a premium paywall. The system looks at various elements of your form, such as the pitch and roll of your head, and how quickly you turn your head to the side to breathe. It then scores you out of 99 for each of these aspects, with video lessons and suggestions for getting better. Then you can set these suggestions on your goggles the next time you go to the pool, so you can get real insight into what you’re doing and how to improve things.

Smart Swim 2 of the form Available all over the world today, it has a price $249 In the US and $339 in Canada. Its predecessor now has a 1 attached to its name and will go on sale for $179, offering a more affordable entry-point for cautious swimmers. Here’s the thing, I really think the Smart Swim 1 with Premium is probably the more attractive option for a lot of people. That’s not so much praise against the 2 as how good the current model already was. Look, if you’re a serious triathlete who cares about your split times and owns a Cullinan Diamond-sized Garmin, get 2. But if you’re a better swimmer than me (and it won’t be hard) but want some real-time data in the water, get the 1.

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