Despite the fact that some of the largest technical players are still lagging behind in offering smartglass options, there are still a number of smartglass makers, including North and Vuzix, with consumer-quality smartglasses on the market.
Startup Form is now a member of companies with a real product on the market that is available to everyday consumers. But make no mistake, their wearables may not be the type of glasses that you expect while walking and driving in your city.
However, if you are a competitive swimmer or if you swim in your fitness routine, you should swim Form Swim. Glasses may be the right choice for you. We had the opportunity to wear the AR fitness during a few workouts, and so it is to swim underwater with an AR display.
What's in the box?
At first glance, Form goggles usually look like your regular goggles. Yes, the on-board computer protrudes on one side, but the mirrored anti-fog coating helps to somewhat hide the computer. The computer case also contains the battery (which Form claims lasts up to 16 hours) and the optical motor for the AR display.
Out of the box the glasses had a very good fit, which is reasonable because you want to keep water out while swimming. However, I have a fairly large head, so your mileage can vary. Nevertheless, the silicone strap offers some relief, but I found it difficult to adjust.
In addition, it comes with five sizes of replaceable nose bridges, but the standard medium was fine for me. Form assesses the glasses as waterproof up to 10 meters (32 feet), which should be great for your average swimming paradise.
Form swimming goggles come in a branded carry bag with a porous bottom cover so that the goggles can dry out during transport after swimming. The package also contains its own charging cable, which is magnetically attached to the computer housing.
The installation is fairly simple. First you have to install the corresponding app from the App Store or Google Play on your smartphone, create an account and connect your handset to the glasses via Bluetooth.
User input for the glasses is distilled in a basic two-button system. One button acts as the on / off button (hold to turn off and on) and the & # 39; s selection button, and the second button guides the user through & # 39; s menu.
The monochrome display itself is very basic and somewhat retro – it's more Casio digital watch then Apple Retina display. If you look closely, you will see the unlit pixels. But given the limited functionality of the glasses, the screen is sufficient.
In addition, a partnership with another fitness company, Polar, adds support for heart rate measurement via OH1 and OH1 + sensors. To meet this functionality, all Form Swim Goggles come with a special bracket that is attached to the safety belt to hold the heart rate sensor against the user's sleep.
Goggles in Action
With the set-up you are ready to hit the pool. For me, that meant getting access to an indoor swimming pool. Fortunately, my neighbor has a membership of the local YMCA and offered to get a guest pass. In the meantime I took it for a jog.
According to a company spokesperson, the Form Swim Goggles use machine learning to track head movements to approximate the movement of the user's arms and body. With this method, the system can detect when the user is making a turn or when the user is at rest to automatically pause the workout. The startup has collected sensor data from a wide range of swimmers, from beginners to professional athletes, for two years to formulate an accurate model.
In theory, Form Swim goggles should also measure activity during a run, right? Or at least sufficient to capture images of the screen in action. So I hit the trails.
When I reached the parking lot of my local jogging path, I started the Form Swim Goggles and then the Polar sensor, which immediately connected. It was a cloudy day, but the daylight was fairly clear. Nevertheless, the display was lively and legible.
With glasses on, I punched through the menus to start a workout. When it came to setting the distance, I went with "unknown", which only displays time and heart rate. Then I started running and, as luck would have it, the display began to follow the elapsed time and my heartbeat. In addition, when I finally settled down during the run, the display showed that the workout was paused. However, because it does not provide measurement data that is relevant to a runner, such as distance and pace, the glasses are not a starter for runners.
On the day of settlement I went to the YMCA to give the device a test in its natural environment. So the moment of truth comes and I climb into the pool and occupy the nearest lane.
I press the button to start training and then I head off for a freestyle round. Within my first few strokes, a progress line appeared (indicating that the device was detecting motion) and then time appeared.
Keep in mind that swimming with glasses is a new experience for me. I don't usually think about taking glasses with me when I go to the pool, and when I do, they rarely work as expected. With the Form Swim glasses, the tight seal kept all the water out of my eyes. So they are already the best glasses experience I have ever had.
But the display, no matter how simple, was floating in front of me while I was swimming … it was a pretty cool experience. When I reached the wall, I noticed that I was pretty excited, so I stopped to rest. The glasses detected the resting state and paused the training session! After the bend, the display announced that I had traveled 25 meters. I then switched to a breaststroke and swam a few strokes under water, all while the display kept on clocking away.
After completing the workout, the display cycles through the collected readings, such as training time, distance, and calories burned. After synchronizing the training, I found even more data, including beats per minute and the type of beat that was used during each lap.
Swimming is not part of my normal training schedule. When I'm training, I manage to walk in or lift some weights, and I track my performance during every workout. For those normal training sessions, a smartphone or a smartwatch is sufficient to keep track of my progress.
However, the nature of the sport of swimming makes smartphones and smartwatches a bulky prospect, although most are watertight today. It is also unrealistic to expect swimmers to look at their wrists between strokes to check their lap time. In this respect, the hands-free smart glasses from Form with its always-on-display is an ideal solution for the sport.
Based on what we have seen in recent years, it is clear that AR smartglasses should go mainstream, manufacturers must find the right balance between design, function and price. In terms of design, consumer quality smart glasses must be made for everyday use. They must also offer a wide range of AR content, apps and functions that provide utility and convenience with hands-free use. And they must be offered for a price that offers value as well as functionality.
So far, Form may not have all of these features, perhaps due to its very specific usage situation. And while $ 199 is low compared to the current consumer glass landscape and advanced smartwatches, its limited functionality lowers its value. I mean, would you "just" spend $ 200 for a tip calculator?
But Form does not try to be a mainstream consumer device on its own. Although waterproof smartwatches and fitness trackers can offer a certain level of performance data, Form Smart Goggles are specially built for swimmers.
The early advantage of the company and the price offer Form a head start on unknown territory. But it already has a new challenger on the blocks in Vuzix, the cunning veteran of smartglass makers. At CES 2020, the company Smart Swim, a device with a built-in computer, battery, optic motor, display, and unveiled a camera that fixes ordinary glasses to make smart glasses out of it.  So while the consumer glass race is the sector that observers really look at, the smart glasses are also a worthy competition for swimmers.