The new goggles will also tell users about their performance and how many calories they burned.

Augmented reality goggles give swimmers heart rate data

By Laura Lovett
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Swim practice may be getting a little techier, as a new pair of augmented reality-enabled goggles promises to keep track of swimmers' heart rates and performance. Officially launching in November, the technology was born from a partnership between Canadian company Form, which specializes in tech supported goggles, and Finnish-based company Polar, which works on sports technology including heart rate monitoring. 

The new technology uses Form’s swim googles and Polar’s optical heart rate monitors. Users will have to purchase both in order for these tracking capabilities to work. 

While users are swimming, their heart rate will appear on the lenses of their goggles. Users will also be able to gain insights into their swimming data, including stroke rate, stroke count, pace per 100 and calories burned, and review each of these metrics within Form's companion app. 

“Form has worked closely with Polar since 2018 to enable this functionality,” Dan Eisenhardt, founder and CEO of Form, said in a statement. “We’ve done extensive testing in the pool with swimmers of all levels, including elite competitive swimmers, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Polar heart rate monitor tech is trusted by athletes around the world; by adding it to the arsenal of metrics that our goggles already deliver, we’ll empower serious swimmers to make their training even smarter and more purposeful. We’ll also further empower coaches and enhance the coach-swimmer dynamic.”

Forum's goggles are listed at $199, and Polar's OH1+ sensor is listed for $79.95.

WHY IT MATTERS

AR is quickly becoming the new buzzword in digital health. Its uses have been employed for everything from helping surgeons during an operation to helping dieters make a smart food choice. 

This new launch displays the industry’s interest in using the technology for sports and athletic improvement. Increasingly, athletes have been turning to technology to help enhance their performance and prevent injuries. At the last Winter Olympic Games in Pyeonchang, South Korea, athletes were donning connected trackers, training on virtual reality tools and even wearing smart suits. This could be a hint about the kinds of technologies to come in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

THE LARGER TREND

This isn’t the first swim tech news this summer. In July, Instabeat announced a new swim trainer designed to give users heart rate feedback, stroke recognition, lap detection and analytics about their performance. This release was a long time coming. The Beirut, Lebanon-based startup launched its crowdfunding campaign in 2014. Today it boasts of a total of $6 million in funding. 

Historically, the swimming space has not been ignored by digital health startups. In 2016 Misfit (now a Fossil brand) and swimwear company Speedo launched the second generation of their Speedo Shine device, a tracker for swimmers. Moreover, fitness wearable company Moov launched heart rate-tracking swim caps in 2016. 

Italian company Xmetrics launched a small device that hooks to the back of the swimmer’s goggles and counts strokes and workout length and provides near real-time audio feedback through an attached headphone.