Tech for your connected self

Waterfi's Swimcast lets you wirelessly stream your music underwater

For when the sound of water just isn't enough

Music can help power your workout. It's why so many running apps let you call upon music to give you that extra push. That's a little more difficult for swimmers, though, who face a number of issues when trying to get wireless music streaming underwater.

Waterfi is hoping to solve those problems with its Swimcast, available on Kickstarter now for $109. The Swimcast clips on to back of your goggles' band, then you just attach the included headphones and you can wirelessly stream audio directly from your phone.

Read this: The best waterproof fitness trackers

The Swimcast doesn't use Bluetooth though. Gabe Hagstrom, communications manager for Waterfi, tells Wareable that when the team was putting together a device to enable underwater streaming it found that Bluetooth waves just don't penetrate water easily. Instead, it turned to Wi-Fi.

Specifically, it looked at Google's Chromecast. The team at Waterfi ripped out the guts of a Chromecast and put it in a new waterproof shell. Hitching onto Chromecast Audio allows Swimcast to take advantage of established support, so you can stream music and podcasts from Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music and others.

Unfortunately, you will need a Wi-Fi connection to make use of Swimcast. You can either connect to a public Wi-Fi at your pool or the beach (the Swimcast is durable enough for the ocean, too) or you can set up a hotspot on your phone. Hagstrom says in testing the team has been able to get a solid connection up to a "couple hundred yards" away from their phone while in the ocean.

Waterfi has been waterproofing established products for years now. It got its start making waterproof iPod Shuffles. When Apple stopped making those, it started to get into the fitness tracker game, waterproofing Fitbits like the Blaze and Charge 2. Now it's turning its attention back to music with the Swimcast, but this time it's also making its own devices, like the Waterfi Swim Tracker.

The team is incredibly small, and still creates each individual product at its home base in San Diego, though Hagstrom says the company does hope to mass produce the Swimcast in the future. While there's the possibility that Google will catch wind and shut them down, Waterfi doesn't seem too concerned.

"It's definitely something we think about, but we've done it in the past with the iPod shuffle, we kind of improved it to be waterproof and sold it, and then also the Kindle Paperwhite, kind of a similar thing," he says. "So it hasn't really been a deal in the past, but also, as we saw, as we repurposed it, it makes the Chromecast useful in a new way that it wasn't as useful for before, so it'll actually sell more Chromecast Audios than if we hadn't done it, so we think that's actually kind of a benefit for them."

Crowdfund this?

It'd be easier to find Atlantis than answer this question. There is something charming about Waterfi. It's taking products that aren't waterproof and making them useful for a very specific niche. That's really the big question here: are you a part of this niche?

If you're a swimmer who is longing for music, and you spend your time either at a pool with a good Wi-Fi connection or you have a hotspot you can use at the beach, then the Swimcast feels like a solid option for you. It's hard to say whether sticking a Chromecast on the back of your head will be comfortable for long periods of time, having not tried it ourselves.

Waterfi's Swimcast brings your tunes under water

There is also some concern about whether Waterfi will be able to scale up should the Swimcast be incredibly popular, but Hagstrom says the Kickstarter money is largely for funding the tools (and buying the Chromecasts) needed to create Swimcasts. Waterfi is also experienced at taking products and making them waterproof, and it even has a waterproof service you can use.

It all swings back to that big question: How much do you need a waterproof music device while you're swimming?


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