Reviewed: Vuzix Labs Smart Swim Heads-Up Display Goggles
Imagine the equivalent of a smartphone or even a computer screen in front of your eyes as you swim. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
A new, sort-of-prototype-level heads up display device for your goggles, the Smart Swim acts as a mini computer with swim-specific functions and a screen you can see as you train.
Endless data options and configurations
Computer display screen
Capable of streaming videos while training
Bulky and heavy
Low practicality in real-world applications
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The Vuzix Labs Smart Swim is pushing the limits with innovation into places we’ve traditionally viewed as a technology-free zone. Diving into the pool has always been a refreshing way to get away from everything and quiet your mind. Swimming is a forced screen break where you can focus on your stroke and the workout. But we are starting to see more companies break these barriers and find ways to keep us connected in surprising ways.
Vuzix Labs Smart Swim Goggles: The Basics
The Smart Swim is a waterproof and wearable computer that attaches to most swim goggles (goggles not included) and places a full-color display screen in front of your eye. The 10-year-old swimmer in me is realizing that my dream of a TV mounted on the bottom of the pool is coming true. The Smart Swim has the ability to stream YouTube movies via Wi-Fi, follow pre-programed workouts, sync with your Bluetooth headphones, navigate a pre-programmed open-water course, take your splits, and so much more.
While there are already some computer-mounted goggles already on the market, like the FORM goggles, the features offered by the Smart Swim are unique for in-water options. However, all that extra stuff comes with product bulkiness and a large learning curve. The current model leaves a lot to be desired for streamline and sleekness. It’s an exciting product, but we look forward to seeing the updated model in three to five years.
Related: Reviewed: FORM Goggles Do In-Water Heads-Up Display
Vuzix Labs Smart Swim Goggles: The Good
Pushing buttons and glancing at the data on your GPS watch or device is easy on dry land. But once you get in the water and start using your arms, looking at a watch and checking pace becomes more challenging (or impossible). The Smart Swim uses nine-axis motion sensors to determine your movement patterns back and forth in the lane, flip turns, open turns, head turns for breaths, and brings the current data right in front of your eye through a full-color display.
Once you push the start button at the beginning of a workout, you don’t need to touch another button until the end. The motion sensors take splits for every lap, recognizing when you rest on the wall to automatically start a rest interval clock and show the previous swim split in a pop-up screen. It also counts your laps or yards (similar to a GPS watch) but displays it all in real time at eye level. All the data is stored and can then be downloaded via Bluetooth to your phone (and then uploaded to your training logs).
The open-water app is very useful with a built-in compass to show your current heading (without sighting or looking forward) and GPS tracking right on the display screen. Swim pace can be calculated and displayed in many formats: per 25, 50, or 100, per yards or meters, average pace, etc. You can also upload a course onto the Smart Swim and then follow the pre-plotted path during an open-water swim.
Finally, let’s get to that 10-year-old’s dream of watching TV while doing laps at swim practice! The Media Player app and the YouTube Streaming app both provide options for watching downloaded (or streamed via Wi-Fi at your swim facility) videos on the small color display screen mounted in front of your dominant eye. Not only is this useful for nonstop digital bingeing, but it can also help your form—think watching technique videos or other instruction while you swim.
Vuzix Labs Smart Swim Goggles: The Lukewarm
Overall, the Smart Swim feels like holding the first cell phone in your hand today. It’s very big and bulky. It does a lot of cool things, and it has a lot of potential. But you also know how much improvement is possible in just a couple of years. Everything gets smaller and lighter with time and innovation and I don’t doubt that is possible with this device.
The weight (about 6 ounces) and size of the unit—even before you attach it to a pair of goggles—is a turnoff for swimmers concerned with drag and resistance in the water. The screen sticks out almost an inch from the front of your lens, causing it to move and shift when a lot of water force is applied (like pushing off the wall or swimming fast). And the screen will appear distorted if any water gets between the screen and your lens (requiring you to stop and adjust or risk getting very cross-eyed).
Also, at 10 years old, I did not think about how I was going to hear the TV shows I wanted to watch on the bottom of the pool…and while Vuzix has given a thought about audio and programmed a way to connect your waterproof Bluetooth earphones to the Smart Swim, they do not include these with the device.
Learning how to use the Smart Swim can also be a small lesson in patience. The buttons are labeled three different ways, the downloadable PDF is 83 pages long, and the 24 instruction videos add up to well over two hours of view time. There is a lot of data that is unnecessary or overly complicated that should be streamlined and professionalized, as this product gains market traction. It’s also worth noting that the Smart Swim currently only syncs with Android phones.
Vuzix Labs Smart Swim Goggles: Conclusion
To put it plainly, we’re looking forward to seeing the 2025 model of the Vuzix Smart Swim. We’re hoping the entire device is less than half the current size, the audio is built in (somehow), and the operating system is more user-friendly. In the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy our screen breaks by hopping in the pool for a swim and being able to see the wall and our watches with both eyes.