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How We Arrived at Smart Swim 2 - What Went Into Developing Our Next-Gen Goggles

During my 4.5 years leading the product function here at FORM, it has been incredibly exciting and inspiring to watch the purpose of the company evolve to where we are today, knowing that we exist to elevate athletic performance through real-time visual feedback. 

Athletes of all types and abilities can improve if you have access to data, empowering you to understand what you are doing in real-time and utilize virtual coaching, at the point when it matters most, while you are in an activity. 

What We Learned

We launched the FORM brand and our first smart swim goggles back in August 2019. At that point, we were not only leading the innovation and delivery of a brand new product, but an entirely new product category, which has led to a giant leap forward in the world of swim technology. We were a small start-up that had established itself as the leading smart swim goggles company. For myself, being at the helm of our product innovation since then, it’s with great pride that today I am very excited to announce the launch of our next-generation FORM Smart Swim 2 goggles which are now available worldwide. I can safely say that we continue to set the bar, redefining what it means to swim with real-time metrics. 

All the work we do on both our hardware and software aims to help you, the athlete, become a better swimmer. After launching our first goggles, we spent a lot of time innovating with new software features, including our open water mode, guided workouts and training plans, custom workouts, TrainingPeaks workout import, and HeadCoach™ to name a few. After spending valuable time listening to our initial customers' feedback and releasing these software features, in early 2022 we turned our attention to our hardware and kicked off our ‘Gen 2’ goggles project.

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Like everything we do, we start with athlete feedback. We review all the feedback we get from users (support contacts, social media messages, survey responses, beta testing, etc.), our internal testing and ideas, and look through the data of how our swimmers have been using their goggles. While we were honestly flattered and excited about all the positive feedback we’d received, we cared more about what we could do better. Looking through the feedback, a couple of things stood out. Our product resonated well with triathletes. While there are way more fitness and masters swimmers than triathletes, triathletes make up around half of our active user base. 

While our first goggles are very comfortable for most, there are a lot of different head shapes out there and your goggles have to be comfortable if you are going to want to use them continually. In addition, after we launched our first goggles, we saw a lot of interest in heart rate. We added the ability to pair a Polar heart rate monitor (OH1 or Verity Sense) with our goggles so you can see your heart rate live while you swim. Despite having to buy an ~$80 accessory, turn on/off and charge two devices, we saw upwards of 20% of our swims with HR. And then when we launched our open water features with connectivity to compatible Garmin and Apple Watches, we heard great feedback and interest in heart rate once again.

Based on these top pieces of feedback, it was clear that we had the core opportunities our 2nd generation goggles had to focus on: take our leading smart goggles and integrate heart rate, create a personalized fit, and reduce drag. That was the easy part. Designing and building it was the hard part.

Next-Gen Innovation

Designing our new Smart Swim 2 goggles was a complex endeavour. Embracing risk as a core value of ours, we dared to venture into uncharted territory, ensuring that our new goggles not only met but exceeded expectations in solving real-world problems. 

With a clear vision in mind, we embarked on multiple projects to bring these new goggles to life, with one of the most significant elements being the integration of heart rate monitoring into a pair of goggles. This involved careful sensor selection, designing the mechanics for sensor integration into the goggles, as well as establishing how the sensor would make contact with the swimmer's head. After much exploration, we picked the temple because it is a great place to get accurate heart rate readings (much better than the wrist, for example). This led to the development of our own proprietary optical heart rate algorithms from scratch.

To address the comfort/drag issue, we started by focusing on optimizing the size of our tech pack, which powers the goggles. By reducing its size by 15% and refining its design for smoother underwater movement, we mitigated drag and potential leakage issues during high-velocity activities like hard push-offs. 

After we reduced the drag of the tech pack, we found a number of other levers to noticeably improve the goggles' comfort. First, we updated our nose bridges so that all five nose bridge sizes included with each pair of goggles are ‘arched’ to cater to athletes with (or without) pronounced nose bridges. Next, we revolutionized the eye seal design to enhance both comfort and water resistance. Through countless prototypes and extensive testing, we developed new proprietary eye seals with a new offset geometry, ensuring a snug fit while minimizing water ingress, even during intense movements. Finally, the extended temples which hide and protect our heart rate sensor provide a lot more stability to the goggles, giving you a very comfortable, personalized-fitting pair of goggles that are stable and don’t leak.

With our new goggles, we had the opportunity to make some improvements to our packaging and case. In line with our ethos of sustainability, we revamped our packaging to be more environmentally friendly, now containing less than 1% plastic and being FSC-certified, while incorporating fun branding details that reflect our pride in the product. We now have a noticeable FORM logo on the side of the goggles’ tech pack so now onlookers can put two and two together and either ask you or Google, “What are FORM goggles?” We have also created a new case specifically for the Smart Swim 2 goggles that is vented on both sides for faster drying (and lower maintenance) of your goggles, embodying our commitment to quality and longevity. 

With each decision and iteration, we remain dedicated to enhancing the swimmer's experience, ensuring that our Smart Swim 2 goggles not only meet but exceed expectations in performance, comfort, and innovation.

Swim Smarter

After years of development, we think that you are going to love swimming with the FORM Smart Swim 2 goggles. They offer a huge leap forward in helping you become a better swimmer, particularly through the ability to swim consistently leveraging your heart rate data for accurate zone-based training and execution of your race pacing strategy.

The world’s first smart swim goggles with integrated heart rate are now also our most customizable goggles giving you unmatched comfort and leak-free swimming. All of this, for only $249, including 2 free months of all our fantastic Premium features, including HeadCoach™, SwimStraight™ (a first-of-its-kind digital compass for open water swimming), and so much more. The price of our first-generation goggles (still a great option) is now permanently lowered to $179.

We exist to solve problems to help you become a better swimmer and athlete. Our Smart Swim 2 goggles are the next big step forward on our roadmap to unlocking your best performances through accessing real-time visual feedback. We have lots more to come!

 

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