Image source: FORM

At the cutting edge of swim tech, interview with FORM founder & CEO Dan Eisenhardt

FORM Swim Goggles are an innovative product that allows swimmers to train the way runners and cyclists do. The smart goggles dish out feedback via a see-through augmented reality display while you swim.

Needless to say, that’s a much easier way of monitoring your performance in the pool than a smartwatch. After all, stopping your swim session in order to look at something sitting on your wrist is not really great way to go about things.

FORM Swim Goggles do all the tracking automatically and the stats are displayed nicely in your line of vision. It really has to be experienced in order to appreciate how efficient the gear really is. Like something plucked out of the future. You can even switch off the display and have it show only when you are making a turn or stopping to rest.

FORM Swim Goggles
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In my review back in 2019, I found the smart goggles to be a great concept. No more losing track of where you are during the session or manually counting laps.

These are certainly exciting times when it comes to sports technology and it’s only going to get better from here. With that in mind I spoke to FORM founder and CEO Dan Eisenhardt, about the smart goggles and where swim technology is heading. What follows is our Q&A.

At the cutting edge of swim tech, interview with FORM founder Dan Eisenhardt
Image source: FORM

How it all started

FORM is a wearable tech pioneer – the first company to come out with augmented reality swim goggles. But previously you personally were part of Recon Instruments – makers of augmented-reality eyewear for cycling and other sports. Is this where the idea for Form Swim Goggles originated from? As a logical extension of your previous work?

Growing up, I swam competitively for 14 years. So I’ve personally felt the pain of not being able to access my swim metrics in real-time. I had the idea for swim goggles with a display in my MBA program back in 2006. For a number of reasons, it couldn’t be done at the time back then. But the idea actually gave rise to Recon Instruments, which delivered a similar augmented reality experience for snow sports and cyclists and runners. That company was sold to Intel in 2015.

What are the specific challenges involved with building smart eyewear for swimming – as compared to other sports such as cycling, for example? Are swim products a tougher nut to crack?

For swim products, it really comes down to fit and quality of materials. Water and chlorine erode products pretty quickly, so you need to find materials that hold up for long-term use. With the fit, everybody’s face is different, so designing swim goggles that have a great seal and a universal fit was indeed a challenge. We wanted to ensure that every person who put on a pair of FORM Smart Swim Goggles would have the best pair of goggles they’ve ever owned. Because of this, we include several nose bridges to try to ensure a tight seal around the eyes.

Continuing to improve the swim experience

FORM Swim Goggles have benefitted from a number of useful upgrades since their launch. For example, late last year the ability to track open water swimming was added. This taps into GPS from Apple and Garmin watches.

Introduced earlier this week are structured workouts. What you get is real-time guidance helping you to improve your swim ability. This is an exciting update.

As a continuation of our commitment to improving the swim experience, on August 24, 2021, swimmers can now access and select from a huge library of Workouts that are purpose-built to help them reach their individual fitness and swimming goals.

In the FORM Swim App, swimmers can select from hundreds of Workouts and download up to 5 Workouts to be stored in the FORM Smart Swim Goggles.

In the app, swimmers can watch video tutorials to learn proper technique and form, as well as understand what each guided workout entails, focus areas, and what equipment they need for their workout.

Once in the water, swimmers can choose their workout and pool length on their goggles. The FORM goggles will then guide them through an immersive workout from start to finish, and will prompt them what to do and where they are at in their swim along the way.

The in-goggle display will tell the swimmer how far to swim, how hard to go, how long to rest, and when to put on and take off equipment (if the workout requires equipment). The swimmer will also be able to see a progress bar that updates them through the workout, motivating them to do more than in a typical workout.

When the workout is complete and you are out of the water, you can review your swim and look at your progress or areas for improvement. New workouts will be added continuously to our extensive library on the FORM Swim App.

At the cutting edge of swim tech, interview with FORM founder Dan Eisenhardt
Image source: FORM

Huge demand for smart tech in swimming

Who do you see as your main competition? For example, FINIS have recently come out with smart swim goggles of their own.

Essential reading: Review – experience the future of swimming with FORM Swim Goggles

Regardless of new names that are starting to appear – there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of competition. This is particularly evident if you compare to the smartwatch and fitness tracker space. Why is this – and do you see this changing?

Seeing that other brands have started exploring this space is a testament to the fact that there is a huge demand for smart tech in swimming. Runners and cyclists have been used to getting their metrics in real-time for years, but up until the launch of the FORM Smart Swim Goggles in August 2019, swimmers were totally underserved by technology. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished at FORM in being the first to bring smart swim goggles to market, and look forward to continuing to expand on the unique FORM swim experiences that we’re delivering and providing to swimmers of all abilities.

Where do you see the advantage of your product as compared to the competition?

The FORM goggles offer more capabilities than any other smart swim goggles on the market. With the FORM goggles, swimmers can be led through an immersive swim experience and have access to an extensive library of workouts. They can access an unparalleled amount of metrics, including real-time split times, distance, stroke rate, pace per 100, and calories. You can also pause your swim at any time, giving you access to drills mode. FORM also supports Polar’s Verity Sense, OH1 +, and OH1 optical heart rate monitors, giving swimmers the unprecedented ability to view their real-time heart rate, in their line of sight, throughout their swim. Swimmers can also use the FORM goggles whether they’re in the pool, open water, and swim spas ensuring they can access real-time metrics no matter where they choose to swim. Even with all of these capabilities, the FORM goggles have a 16+ hour battery life, so you don’t have to worry about charging them after each swim. Finally, swimmers of all levels can now access live, guided workouts through the FORM goggles, to achieve their fitness goals.

Further miniaturization of components

As great as FORM Swim Goggles are, I’m guessing there is a version 2.0 in the making. When can we look forward to the next generation product?

As you’ve seen, the FORM goggles have had game-changing updates since we launched. At the moment, we want to continue to push the limits of swim-tech and give every FORM user the chance to experience these breakthroughs on their current goggles. While it’s safe to say, you can always expect more from us!

Where do you see room for improvement on the current device?

When we originally created the FORM Smart Swim Goggles, we built them through innovating with groundbreaking technologies available at the time, spending countless hours perfecting the design. Where we see room for improvement is with the continuing miniaturization of the components, this gives us room to play with the goggles form factor, while at the same increasing capabilities through being able to add additional technologies as well as more power.

At the moment FORM Swim Goggles work with the Polar OH1 heart rate monitor. Are there plans to introduce heart rate sensors that are built into the goggles? Or perhaps a built-in GPS chip for open water swimming? I’m guessing there’s’ a fine line here as additional hardware may have a detrimental effect on battery life.

We want every integration that we put into our goggles to be functional, purposeful and to enhance the FORM Swim Experience. We evaluate new innovations and products through that lens to make sure these integrations are seamless and drive a better swimmer-focused experience for every FORM user.

An exciting space to be a part of

The past 18 months have been difficult for everyone. How has this affected FORM and its future plans?

Despite the challenges, what we saw was the incredible creativity in the swimming community. We began to see people modify their home pools, using bungee cords to turn small backyard pools into a never ending pool. We saw more people begin to explore open water swimming for the first time. Now that pools are opening back up, we’re seeing people who weren’t your typical swimmers now add swimming into their routine, and with our Workouts launch, we’re excited to be part of that journey with them.

Where do you see swim tracking technology heading in 4-5 years time? Are you looking at other form-factors/smart swim products?

Until we launched in August 2019, technology had completely underserved swimming until we brought the FORM goggles to market. In two years, we’ve completely changed the game for swimmers who have jumped into using the product. From here, we’ll continue to create new experiences for all abilities of swimmers, and remove barriers for anyone looking to introduce swimming into their routine. The possibilities are really endless, which is why this is such an exciting space to be part of. FORM is at the cutting edge of innovation for swim tech and we can’t wait to continue to push what’s possible.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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