Zwim gives swimmers a heads-up display through its goggles

The South Korean startup is looking to halt workout interruptions in the pool
Zwim gives swimmers a HUD

If you're a runner, flicking your wrist and keeping an eye on pace or distance is fairly natural. The same goes for cyclists, who simply need to wait for a safe time to look down at their piece of wearable tech or their bike to check on progress.

It's the same for swimmers if you have a decent swimming watch, but what if you want to see all of your data without having to touch a button or attempt to swipe a touchscreen with your wet fingers?

Read this: Best waterproof fitness trackers

Step forward Zwim and its heads-up display (HUD) built into a pair of goggles. The South Korean company, which features engineering graduates from Seoul National University, is now looking for $20,000 from Indiegogo backers ahead of its expected arrival next May. Early bird offers begin at $199, which is almost half of its eventual retail price of $380.

"I swim around three times a week and also train for triathlons, and the desire came from my personal experience," Zwim CEO Taegoo Kang told us. "I usually use a Garmin smartwatch, but it didn't solve the problem of trying to track my progress because I would have to stop and check it all the time.

"A few years ago there was no real solution for trying to track your heart rate in the water. So I searched around on Amazon, eBay, everywhere, and eventually, after not being able to find anything, decided to design and produce the solution myself."

The result was Zwim, a pair of goggles which feature a module that allows users to tap into a HUD and view a range of metrics without interrupting their activity. In total, Kang indicated that 23 sets of data can be thrown to the user, including detailed information on heart rate – such as current heart rate zone, the session average and a graph of heart rate progress – as well as more basic metrics: calories, time elapsed, lap time and lap count.

And despite so much going on in the lens, Kang noted that test wearers have not found the presence of data too distracting.

"We have had many testers and they don't find it particularly off-putting," he said. "In fact, we found that competitive swimmers were particularly excited about being able to see their lap times and heart rate.

"So far we haven't seen any device in the market that allows users to do what we do for swimming, so while it will take time to be adopted by ordinary people, it's something serious swimmers will appreciate from the start."

Zwim gives swimmers a heads-up display through its goggles

Development has not all been straightforward for Zwim, though, despite now making waves towards its funding goal. After initially launching and raising over $16,000 on Kickstarter, the company decided to cancel the project in order to re-launch at a different price point.

"Zwim is now cheaper – initially it was $300 on Kickstarter and now it's $200 – and it's something we wanted to do because we had many people complain about the pricing. We know this is kind of an unusual decision, but we thought it would be better, even if it meant taking away a couple of features for now, to offer the goggles at a lower price," Kang explained.

Crowdfund this?

So after two years of development and several design iterations, Zwim is almost ready to make the jump into swimming pools across the world – but whether you should dip into your pockets and back the project is another matter.

Kang indicated to us that his team is 80% of the way there in terms of securing the likes of manufacturing partners and supply chain logistics, though, as always with production, delays can happen unexpectedly. And in terms of patents, the company has locked up files for its design while continuing to work on patents for its technology.

It's worth pointing out that this isn't the first swimming tracker looking to project its insights from the lens of user's goggles. There was also Instabeat's smart googles, which were supposed to ship in 2013 and have been dogged by delays. They still haven't launched. Until now, nobody has broken into the area and made it their own, despite plenty of promise. If Zwim can deliver everything it sets out to do, it could prove to be just that.

However, we imagine that unless you're a dedicated swimmer who has grown seriously tired of checking your wrist when training, the price may still be too steep for this kind of tech.


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