Wearable technology is starting to help the performance of swimmers for a variety of reasons. We delve deeper and investigate what’s available to help you swim in style when you next take a dip in Hampstead Heath ponds.
Swimming for health and fitness
Where previously, measuring performance in water was limited to athletes and their coaches, many devices have now become more affordable to help regular swimmers. Doing so helps gather data and trends to improve stamina and swimming technique.
Most common of these are heart rate monitors and performance measurement devices.
Underwater Heart Rate Monitors
As an anaerobic form of exercise, a heart rate monitor in the pool or the ponds is a useful way to set targets for a swimming session or for over several sessions. Changes over time can help measure improvements in overall health and fitness. Typically worn around the temple and ears, these devices work by allowing an Infra Red sensor to measure the blood flowing through capillaries.
This data is then sent to a built in processor which when set against the temple, translates the information into audio through bone conduction. One of the major benefits of this piece of technology is that it tells you exactly how hard your body is working in real time and can help you reach your optimum level no matter how intense or casual the swim is.
Finis Inc. has developed Aqua-Pulse, which uses infrared sensors and functions like an ear clip.
Instabeat is another device that can help swimmers in this area. With heart rate sensors mounted on swimming goggles, swimmers can instead have visual feedback on how they’re faring underwater.
Besides monitoring and relaying heart rate, Bone Conduction Technology is also being applied to give constant audio feedback on how fast you are swimming, together with other real time and calculated statistics that can help improve the performance of your swim.
The Misfit Shine and FlyFit are going to make appearances in the market very soon and if you decide to get one, has the potential to greatly improve your swimming performance.
The Speedo Aqua, the Garmin Swim Worldwide watch and the Swimsense have motion sensors on the devices that can help track how many laps, the pace, the stroke count and even identify the type of stroke you are doing.
The Basis Peak and the Mio Alpha 2 can track a great number of stats underwater and work really well in depths of up to 30 metres. The device can automatically be synced with a mobile app for reviewing the results later and the display screen can be customized.
Whether you want to track the distance travelled, read time underwater, use it as a stopwatch or check how many calories are burnt, underwater fitness trackers can help you track even the tiniest movements you do underwater, all thanks to a variety of complex, integrated sensors.
Audio and music players for swimming
Several companies have waterproofed traditional Mp3 devices to enable swimmers to listen to music underwater. This helps to get into the zone much quicker and is also more likely to help extend a work out. More prevalent though, are Mp3 devices that use bone conduction technology for audio transmission, which can be used in place of ear-phones.
The SwiMP3 uses jawbone conduction, where sound resonates through the jawbone and the music plays as you might expect.
Safety for professional divers and open water swimming
Underwater airbags are not just used for lifting heavy shipwrecks out of the water anymore! Kingii is the latest swimming, wearable tech. It is a wristband that can help take you to the surface, or keep you afloat when at risk of drowning or facing danger in open waters. The Kingii weighs less than an average smartphone and contains a rectangular pouch with a small capsule of carbon dioxide.
If you get into trouble when out swimming or need immediate assistance, all you need to do is tug on the bracelet, which will inflate the flotation device in a matter of seconds, inflating the airbag with carbon dioxide. This will then lift you up to the surface of the water and to safety.
Making swimming for leisure more fun
Underwater cameras including GoPro feature stunning video quality and is built to withstand extreme water pressure and environments. Wearable underwater cameras allow users to have their hands free for both leisure and extreme water sports.
Aids for Paralympians
When a Paralympic swimmer reaches the end of a lap, the coach would ordinarily tap him or her on the back as a signal to flip or turn around. Developed by the Spanish Paralympic Committee and in association with Samsung, Blind Caps are the newest entrants in the league of swimming wearable tech.
The device works by having hardware worn on the swimmer, which is connected to software on a smartwatch or a phone. The coach can then simply tap once on the phone or the watch to alert the swimmer when he or she has reached the end of the lap.
The alert comes in the form of a gentle vibration when the swimmer reaches the end of the pool. With this piece of technology, comes a positive change in the way Paralympic games can now be conducted.
Whichever device you choose to take for your next swim, stay safe and have fun!