Augmented Reality (AR) Headsets: My Experience With FORM Swim Goggles
Here’s what I learned with my experience with wearing an AR headset:
- I must and do concentrate more, given the complexity of swimming and consuming data at the same time. At least now, it takes more of my mental capacity. I daydream less.
- Seeing data in real time changes my behavior. When you are swimming 300 yards, for example, and you want each 100 to be faster than the previous one, data helps. Before, I would just gauge based on my heart rate and how fast I was breathing.
- I do feel that my vision is just a little obscured in that I have small blind spots given the in-goggle display. I am just swimming back and forth in an Olympic-sized pool. I don’t want to run into the wall by getting too close for a flip turn or hitting my fellow swimmers circling in the lane with me.
- An AR headset feels safe in a swimming pool. I am not sure it would if I were out jogging, cycling, skiing, etc. (About twice a year, I trip while out jogging early in the morning — and that is with all of my vision. I am currently missing a lot of skin on the palms of my hands and right knee.)
- I do feel more disconnected from my lanemates. Usually, we chat while resting. Now, I find myself (and they tell me) scrolling data in my goggles. If I’m chatting, I’m now chatting with my friend Syd, who wears the same goggles. We discuss the data we’re collecting in real time.
- I had to learn to adjust to less overall light while swimming. The goggles must be tinted for the display to really pop in the indoor pool.
How The FORM Swim Goggles Work
There is an app on the phone to set up the goggles and to consume data post-swim. The user can configure the display information on the goggles for three situations: swimming, turning, and resting. For example, I like to know how fast I am going while I am swimming, but I want to know total yardage on my flip turns. The data is phenomenally detailed.
I had a chance to interview FORM Founder Dan Eisenhardt for our research. The engineer in me absolutely admires so many dimensions of the product they have created. As you can imagine, they are using sensors in the goggles to detect what stroke one is swimming, when one turns, rests, etc. They show a broad range of core data while the goggles are in use and then in-depth data within the app post-download. And yes, these are normal-sized swim goggles with a little box extension; they’re not the size of a diving mask. The goggles are spec’d for 15 hours of swim time.
Dan revealed that there are a lot more cool features on the way.
I showed the goggles to one of my lanemates, a retired ophthalmologist. He used them for 5 minutes before deciding to buy a pair. He never wears a watch. He has often worn a headset with a display for his work. He fits the profile of early adopters.
Yes, I am one of those people who swims several days a week with a Masters swim program. I swim with an Apple Watch. I am obsessed with the data. Auto Sets is the best. Auto Sets breaks down my 3,000-yard swim into natural elements: 25s, 300s, etc. I share the data with my coach, and we discuss tactics to lower split times.
And yes, the goggles are priced at nearly $200. Typically, goggles cost closer to $30, and I go through about three pairs a year. I will want these to last longer.
Like most connected products, consumers pay for outcomes. My desired outcome here is not dry eyes or seeing underwater. Well, those are basic expectations; I’m also seeking real-time feedback so I can speed up or lengthen my stroke.
I am working on some research on where augmented reality is today for consumers. I’ve spoken with some of the largest players. I’d love to speak with anyone with an AR app or tool, as well as agencies or shops building these experiences. Please reach out to me at email@example.com if you have a story to share.