FINIS Smart Goggle review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

FINIS Smart Goggle

8.5

Design

9.0/10

Ease of use

8.5/10

Usefullness

8.0/10

Value for money

8.5/10

Pros

  • Show real-time stats in your line of vision
  • Look and feel like traditional goggles
  • Very easy to use - one button operation
  • Work well - accurate
  • Up to 6 hour battery life

Cons

  • Few options to edit data
  • Strava is only third-party app FINIS Smart Goggle sync with

 

Most swimmers will have heard of the name FINIS. The Northern California-based outfit is one of the leading manufacturers of swim products. With nearly three decades of experience they sell their gear in more than 80 countries across the globe. This includes everything from swim caps to underwater MP3 players.

Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets

The company is known for innovation and says it is dedicated to developing the next big thing. And smart swim goggles certainly have the potential to become just that. This type of product offers a much more convenient method to track your swim sessions than a sports watch, or even worse – manually counting laps!

Mind you, FINIS is not the first to enter this market. FORM Swim Goggles have been around for some two years now as the first augmented reality glasses for swimmers. But now FORM has its first real competitor in the form of the FINIS Smart Goggle. This offers more choice to customers and will help to drive down the cost of such products.

I’ve been tracking my swim sessions for the past few weeks with the FINIS Smart Goggle. Here’s what I made of them.

Design
Setting up the goggles
Features
FINIS Smart Goggle vs Form Swim Goggles
The verdict

FINIS Smart Goggle review: Design

In the box you get a set of swim goggles, a little pod-like Smart Coach module, six different sized nose-bridges and a magnetic USB charging cable. There’s also a little instruction booklet if you care to read it.

Traditional design

What I liked about the product is that it looks no different than a high-end traditional pair of goggles. More so than FORM Swim Goggles which are a bit bulkier and heavier.

Looking closely, you won’t notice anything strange about the FINIS Smart Goggles. And that can only be a good thing. I don’t particularly want to attract attention from fellow swimmers around me.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

The goggles come in two colour options – white/smoke and blue. I have the second option as can be seen from the images. This is essentially a blue polycarbonate lens with a white, what looks to be, Thermoplastic Rubber Gasket and an adjustable silicone strap.

Ensuring a nice fit

The gear is comfortable to wear and you can adjust the tightness by pulling the straps, as you would with any traditional swim goggles. For added customisation, you also get a number of different sized nose-bridges. The one that was attached by default ensured a nice fit for me, so there was no need to swap it around for another one.

During swimming the goggles kept the water out and felt perfectly fine. As far as fogging up, I did find this happens to an extent. But no more than any standard pair of swim goggles.

The clever bit of the whole thing is housed in the Smart Coach module. This needs to be inserted into the corner of the left lens. You’ll know it is properly in place when you hear two clicks. The first indicates that it is in position, the second that it is secure.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

There was no danger, whatsoever, of the module falling out or moving around once it was in – it will not budge. In fact, it sits so firmly that I found it a bit difficult to remove when charging. But with trial and error you do get the hang of things. In the end I opted to just to leave it where it is. There’s no real reason to remove the module once it is in place.

FINIS suggests you rinse the goggles with fresh water after each swim. Also, if you spot any residue, to remove it from the Smart Coach module with rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. Not a problem.

A single button for control

In addition to the traditional design, what I also liked about the goggles is how simple they are to use. There is only one physical button and you use this to switch the goggles on, and to start or stop a swim session. This has been integrated in such a way that you don’t really notice the button unless you’re looking for it. It blends very nicely into the surrounding material.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

As far as turning off the FINIS Smart Goggle, there’s nothing for you to do there. Simply end the swim by pressing the button, and they will automatically switch off after 10 minutes of inactivity.

Up to 6 hour battery life

Moving on to the all-important battery life and on this count the goggles do not disappoint. On a single charge everything keeps going for around 4-6 hours depending on your use. Nevertheless, FINIS suggests you refuel after every swim. Not sure why – perhaps this helps to preserve battery health. On a one hour swim, I found the battery life displayed in the smartphone app was around 85%.

Charging is done via a proprietary cable which has a magnetic end which snaps on to the pins in the module. You can remove the module to charge it, or leave it in the left lens and charge it from there. I’m not a particular fan of proprietary charging gear as it means if you loose the cable or damage it, you’ll need to order a new one.

You’ll know the charge status by looking at the LED light indicator that is built into the module. An orange light shows the battery is charging, and when that switches off you’ll know it is full.


FINIS Smart Goggle review: Setup

What I like to do when testing out any smart gear is to try to set it up and use it without reading the instructions. It helps me to understand how simple or difficult it is to use the device. The only bit of info I armed myself with was the name of the smartphone app that needs to be installed.

To set everything up, you’ll need to download the Ciye app to your phone. The name stands for “The Coach In Your Eye”. The smart goggles are actually a collaborative product between Ciye and FINIS.

Add yourself as a new user and the software will ask you a few basic questions such as gender, weight, and age. At some point you will also be prompted to pair the goggles with the app. This, of course, only needs to be done the first time you use the app.

I found all this to be a seamless process. The app found the goggles right away and connected smoothly. From that point on the two had no problems communicating. Power on the goggles, open the app and they will connect.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

During initial setup you’ll want to adjust the goggle strap for a comfortable fit. Then insert the module into its allocated space. You should see a Smart Goggle display in your line of vision. If not, press the power on button.

The app will walk you through the display settings. This appears on a bit on the left hand side, not in the middle of your line of vision. While it might seem strange at first, it is actually a clever concept. The fact that the screen is not in the middle means if you focus your eyes straight ahead, you won’t see it at all. It is only when you look to the left that you will notice it.

Now it’s time to use the arrows in the smartphone app to position the text of the display so that you can read it easily. There’s also a brightness setting that you can tweak. These settings can always be readjusted by going back to the app, selecting the Goggles tab>Adjust Goggles.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

It takes only a few seconds to set the display up for comfortable viewing. If you’re having issues, FINIS suggests you experiment with different nose bridges.

You can also name your goggles and play around with other settings. A useful feature, for example, is one that lets you add different swim locations. Each allows you to tweak the pool length. I did need to use this as my local pool is 30m in length which is not really standard.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

Another setting that you might want to check is the one that defines what you can see during the swim – the “Customize Goggles Screen.” I actually left the default option as it served my purposes well. But you can choose between the “Standard Swim” option, “I Swim Laps”, “I Swim for Time” and “I Swim Sets”. Each of these displays slightly different metrics. There’s also a “short hand display” option if you want to minimise distraction.


FINIS Smart Goggle review: Features

In the water

In the pool, press the physical button once to power up the goggles. Press it again when you are ready to swim. That’s all there is to it. No other controls, everything is automatically done for you. Apart from actually swimming, your only other task is to end the session when you are done by pressing the physical button once again.

My “Standard Swim” setting shows the number of sets, laps, split time, set time, running time, total swim time, rest periods and time of day. These don’t show up at the same time. Rather, the display scrolls through them making your swim session much more interesting.

The accelerometer in the module knows exactly what you are doing as it tracks your motion. I looked forward to the rest periods as they allowed me to mull over the data in more detail.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

I will be the first to admit that I am not brilliant in the water. At best I consider myself to be an average swimmer. Nevertheless, the glasses had no problems identifying my stroke. The ones that its algorithm can figure out include free, back, breast, fly, kick and drill. It was not perfect 100% of the time, but neither is my technique. I can say that it was correct most of the time. For a better quality swimmer I imagine it would be nearly perfect.

One slight negative is that I found the sets counter to be a bit too strict. The gear counts both sets and laps. But it would sometimes take me a second or two to make a turn from the other end of the pool – particularly at the shallow end. The glasses would sometimes mark that set as over and begin a new one. Which was slightly annoying.

Also, in a crowded pool on my first swim I had to stop in the middle of a lap. That confused the glasses as they thought I had finished that lap when in fact I didn’t. The app does allow for editing some information but not laps or sets. In the following sessions, I was more careful not to stop mid-lap so didn’t have that issue again.

As mentioned, after you’re done press the physical button to end the session. Then once you’re nice and dry fire up the Ciye app to sync everything up. This typically takes a minute or two for a one hour swim session.

The Ciye app

The stats during the swim are useful. They let you know, in real time, exactly how you are doing. Having access to this type of data motivates you to improve and I repeatedly found myself trying to beat my previous best lap time. You also have a time of day clock so no need to wonder how long you’ve been in the pool. I actually found myself spending more time in the water than usual – it makes swimming more fun.

But the app shows your performance in much more detail. Plus it allows you to follow trends.

Everything is neatly organised into four tabs: news (a scrolling feed of your activity, your friends activity and news items), history (your swim history), Pools (where you can add/edit pool info) and Goggles (settings, battery level, etc). The software has a nice clean, minimalistic feel to it.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

The stats make interesting reading and some of them are graphically displayed. The app also allows you to define weekly goals. You can set this for distance, frequency and swim time. This is useful for following trends although I do wish there was a way to look at monthly totals in addition to weekly ones.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

Additional info that you can see in the app but not in real-time includes: average pace, total distance, calories burned, lap splits per set, plus more detailed info on active time and rest time. As mentioned above, the stroke type is the only bit of info that you can edit. Not a problem as long as you’re careful not to stop swimming mid-lap.

The Ciye app also allows you to connect to Strava. This can be done via the settings. Simply approve the connection and your swim stats will sync automatically to the popular platform. No other third-party integration is currently available, although I would love to see Garmin, Fitbit and other third-party compatibility.

FINIS says pretty soon the goggles will have Swim.com integration so that’s something to look forward to. This is the number one platform for workout tracking within the swim community.

Also worth a mention is that the FINIS goggles can track open water swimming. However, this only shows your time. Other metrics will be added in due course including location, direction, stroke rate and more.

FINIS Smart Goggle Review: get real-time performance stats while you swim


FINIS Smart Goggle vs Form Swim Goggles

The two leading smart swim goggles at the moment are the FINIS Smart Goggle and FORM Swim Goggles. There’s no avoiding a comparison.

Place FINIS Smart Goggle next to FORM and it is evident that the two are quite similar. They both look very much like the traditional thing, but overlay a digital display in your line of sight. This allows for unobtrusive swim sessions. Much more convenient that trying to read swim stats on a tiny watch display.

Of the two, FINIS is closer in design to standard goggles as it simply requires a small module to be inserted in one of the goggle lenses. This also has the benefit that if the module gets old or scratched, you can simply purchase another one. Less expensive than replacing the whole thing. Plus the FINIS goggles are lighter and less bulky than FORM.

Another difference is that FINIS display your swim stats on the left hand side which leaves you with an unobstructed view of the world in front of you. FORM overlays a augmented reality display in the line of your vision. So in that sense I found the FINIS product to be less distracting.

The FORM Swim Goggles offer certain advantages, as well. These come in the form of the ability to link to a Polar heart rate monitor. Plus they can tap into GPS for open-water swimming when connected to a Garmin or Apple Watch. And they have more third-party integration and longer battery life.


FINIS Smart Goggle review: The verdict

Smart goggles are a much more convenient way to track your swim sessions than sports watches. They provide easy to view real-time info in your line of vision and are in a better position than your wrist to correctly track movement. Plus it’s something that, most likely, you would wear anyway.

I found the FINIS Smart Goggles to be a well thought out product. It’s good that there is another entrant in this market niche and FORM now has a worthy competitor.

What I liked about the product is how simple the goggles are to use. Switch them on and start swimming – one button operation. Their other highlight is that it is difficult to notice the FINIS Smart Goggles are any different to a traditional set of swim goggles – the Smart Coach Module is nicely hidden away.

The swim metrics are visible in the corner of your left eye. This means you see them only if you actively decide to look at them.

But let’s not forget tracking capabilities, after all this is the most important part of such a product. The FINIS Smart Goggles keep tabs on main swim metrics including split times, laps, sets, the type of swim stroke and more. And all of this is pretty accurate.

My main wish is for integration with third party apps such as Garmin, Fitbit and Apple. Having said that, you do have the ability to sync with Strava.

I would recommend FINIS Smart Goggle to most swimmers out there. They can definitely help you become more proficient in the water. The goggles require minimal interaction, they are easy to use and work well. For the more hard-core lot, they might appreciate the added stats that can be gained by wearing FORM.

The $235 FINIS Smart Goggle can be picked up at SwimOutlet  – the most popular online swim retailer. They’ve been selected as the exclusive retailer for the FINIS Smart Goggle.


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One thought on “FINIS Smart Goggle review: get real-time performance stats while you swim

  • swim.com is now another 3rd party app that works with these goggles

    Reply

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