FORM Swim Goggles Review
FORM has just announced the availability of their FORM SWIM GOGGLES and I’ve been lucky enough to have a pair to review for the last couple of weeks.
I say ‘lucky’, I was REALLY sceptical at first that they would be of much use to my swim training. To cut a long story short…I was a bit wrong.
Who are FORM Swim Goggles For?
If you are a pool swimmer and interested in more frequent SWIMMING PACE feedback than you’ve had before then FORM goggles could be for you.
Put another way, you would probably classify yourself as a competitive swimmer to some degree.
What Does the Tech Deliver?
This pool-based tech might be described as a Heads-up-Display (HUD) or some form of Augmented Reality (AR) linked to a motion sensor.
But the super-key thing for you as an athlete is that it gives you one of these 3 things in near-real-time
- Performace over your last completed length;
- Total performance for the CURRENT INTERVAL; or
- Total performance for the entire workout so far.
You chose to display one metric from time, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, pace per 100, pace per 50, distance, length count, and calories burned.
However, FORM goggles do not give you a truly ‘instant pace’, they work on knowing how long the pool is and the time taken for the onboard accelerometers to recognise a turn and hence your pace. Stroke type and frequency are also detected.
What’s the big deal?
I’ve only really ever had proper post-workout swim metrics. I’ve never really had anything quite so instantaneous, unless you count these as instantaneous:
- Someone, poolside, shouting at you every couple of lengths 😉
- A blurry look at a poolside clock
- Metrics on your watch at the end of an interval/set.
- A periodic alert from a sports watch
So we’re talking about much more ACTIONABLE info from a near real-time display. Remember it’s not quite true real-time data that you see but it’s probably closer to real-time than you’ve ever had before and you can certainly adjust your effort levels within a set.
Form Swim Goggles Review – In The Box
You get the goggles and 5 sizes of nose bridge as well as a nicely made case which is a little on the large size. You’ll probably want to protect your swim-tech investment more than your normal goggles and this case will do that, for sure.
There’s also an Android or iOS app and a custom USB charging cable.
Form Swim Goggles Review – Comfort, Fit and Swim Experience
Let’s face it, we all love whatever goggles we currently use. FORM’s biggest problem is going to be to get us to use their goggles.
They are well made though. Better than my Zoggs.
The nose bridge was a very good fit for me and I reverted to the default ‘medium’ size after trying a few other sizes for fun. There’s a 45-day FIT guarantee.
The display is good/clear too. I’ve had it turned down low on a very bright day at an outdoor pool and then the metrics were a bit difficult to see sometimes but it was my fault that I chose inappropriate settings for that particular environment. But even then the display was perfectly visible with the dark lane line behind the numbers. When properly illuminated, the display is perfectly clear and visible even on the brightest day at an open-air pool.
I seemed to have some loss of peripheral vision as well as the occasional strange reflection of people in the lane next to me. That was a bit disconcerting some times but more especially when sharing a lane with others. Nevertheless, I generally liked how the metrics were displayed. These 3 customizable displays are ALL possible for one swim session without touching the FORM goggles
- Display interval time AND pace per 100 as you swim (swim display)
- Display interval time and last length time as you turn (turn display)
- Scroll the display of LENGTHS and LAST SET PACE/100m underneath the REST TIMER COUNTER (rest display)
Heads Up Triathletes – This is a different beast to the Garmin Forerunner 945 tri watch (for example). With FORM you just press go and never touch it again until the end. Thus, all the rest periods are automatic including the changes in display that occur throughout your session. I think that real swimmers will like this as it makes the FORM goggles a non-invasive bit of tech. Like many triathletes, however, I bemoan not having a button to press as I start my next set (hey c’mon guys…we ALL love to do that).
Form Swim Goggle Technical Specs
- Display – Outdoor-readable see-through display – Can be worn over left or right eye
- Metrics – Split time, interval time, rest time, total time, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, pace per 100, pace per 50, distance, length count, calories burned
- Battery life – 16 hours swim time, inactive auto powerdown in 20 minutes
- Waterproofing – Up to 32 ft (10 m)
- Fit and materials – 5 nose bridge sizes (included), Contoured eye seals made from FDA-certified silicone, Adjustable silicone strap
- Coatings – Permanent, chemical-resistant anti-fog
- Connectivity – Bluetooth® 4.2, connect via the app not via the phone’s Bluetooth settings
- Carrying case – Premium ventilated case with zip closure
- Eyesight – Focus is set to infinity. FORM claim to have an employee with -4.5/-4.5 vision where the goggles worked correctly. A family member tried them on with a ‘fairly bad’ negative prescription and found them blurred – as a swimmer, her verdict was ‘they’re really cool’. There’s a 45 day fit guarantee in any case.
I don’t know the display specs but the pixel density is very low. Despite that, they are very readable. This is an uncorrected image I took and I’ll struggle to get a better one. That is then compared to an image taken from FORM’s website. The reality that you see is closer to that from the website than from the image I took.
Form Swim Goggle Accuracy
I’ve swum about 20000m with them so far as research for this FORM Swim Goggle Review. 2 sessions just for the purposes of testing the goggles and one group session (no-one noticed them!)
The metrics are relatively straightforward and the only potential sources of error are length- and stroke-detection
- Were the lengths right? Yes. Tied in exactly with my Garmin 945 (trivial 945 errors occurred that are not worth mentioning)
- Was stroke detection right? Yes. Freestyle – apparently other strokes exist?…hey, I’m a triathlete. ;-). Seriously though, drills were not classified as drills (I wouldn’t expect that)
Strangely the pace/len metrics were individually different between the FORM goggles and the 945. I guess each device’s onboard algorithms decide differently on when the end of a length occurs based on what they are told by the accelerometers.
After this review FORM introduced support for LIVE HR data via the Polar OH1. Here are the results of the accuracy test for that.
The Form Swim Goggles App
I used the Android app and here are some images to give you a flavour of both the display customisation screens and the post-workout analyses.
I liked the app, though no doubt it will be frequently updated. So I won’t dwell on it too much here.
It seemed to have the key metrics readily available and broken down by the sets/lengths as appropriate. The app is also used to configure the displays you see whilst swimming and gives MUCH BETTER interactivity than the somewhat limited interface on the goggles would allow ie FORM have made the right call to customise the goggles from the app.
With the later introduction of the support for live HR data via Polar OH1 sensor the app has had columns added to the workout data views to let you see HR. You can also set your HR zones and view a pretty chart of your HR track for each workout.
These are not intended for OWS usage as the metrics fundamentally rely on knowing when you have pushed off.
However I can see I might use them for lap swimming in OWS at my local lake, even a simple timer will be of some use to me, albeit limited. Yet with the addition of live HR via the Polar OH1, even OWS swimming seems to have found a new and potentially useful gadget.
And that last sentence, I think, summarises how backward and lacking in tech OWS is. Even a sporty gadget-lover like me will be happy with just a simple timer when swimming OWS. #Sigh.
3rd Party Links – STRAVA and co
There are social features and data push links to STRAVA, Garmin (pull, not push), Facebook and Training Peaks (push, not pull). I’m not quite sure of the benefit of linking to STRAVA but I guess it can’t hurt. I’m assuming that these could replace your Garmin watch to provide swim data into Training Peaks.
Form Swim Goggle – Would I buy them?
No, I don’t think I would.
If I had read this review I don’t think it would have convinced me to buy them. Then again, I’m not the target market (competitive swimmers).
Form Swim Goggle – Will I use them?
I’ve got these as a PR sample straight from FORM.
From writing this in August to the end of 2019 I used them for:
- My non-group swim session(s) at weekends
- I use them for pacing to ensure a consistent pace
- I use them to see if any subtle changes in technique make me faster or slower (inconclusive so far)
*IF* I used them in faster group session I would benefit from
- In faster group sessions where swim pace is important
- Just simply counting laps…it’s much easier having the number of lengths beamed into your goggles.
- The rest timer – this saves me pressing a button, looking at my watch and then remembering to press the button when I get going. #Lazy
What’s Missing – Form Swim Goggle Review
These are the real deal. They do the job to which they are intended, essentially replacing and improving the poolside clock.
But almost anything can be improved as we’ve definitely found in this Form Swim Goggle Review. Even a Big Mac and Coke can be improved.
I would love to see the following in another iteration of the product
- OWS directional indicator
- Ability to display more metrics (although I think there is enough there for me already)
- Structured workouts
- Some way to display or estimate ‘instant pace’ during a length or in OWS perhaps from water flow combined with GPS
- Goggle neutrality – ie the ability to fit on your goggles.
- Change the purchase to a subscription-based model. If they break or wear out, you get a free pair.
- Multiple athlete/coach view
Want a pair?
They are only available at amazon.com and amazon.ca. NOTE WELL you will get a $20 discount on the Amazon site if you check the little box underneath the $199 price to get $179
Get it here: FORM Goggles at Amazon
If you are in the UK/Europe then you can use the code SWIM20 on the manufacturer’s site.
Price, Availability & Discount
Price - 90%
Apparent Accuracy - 95%
Build Quality & Design - 95%
Features, Including App - 75%
Openness & Compatability - 75%
Summary – Form Swim Goggles Review
These are a professionally produced piece of pro-swim kit and, whilst there are several competitive products out there, these seem to me to be the real deal. FORM set out with relatively narrow goals and achieved them well. Very well, in my opinion.
If you compare FORM to the awesomeness of run tech or bike tech then you will be disappointed, the beauty of FORM’s tech is how it integrates the solution into a relatively novel display mechanism in a demanding environment.
At $200 these are a drop in the ocean of the training budget for high-level swimmers which are, after all, the target market. For the casual swimmer or the wannabe triathlete then $200 may well be more of a barrier with a product offering less certain returns.
I would imagine that there are two key barriers to the initial take up in the market and the price is not one of them, these are:
- You’ll hear, “They’re not as good as my current goggles, I love my goggles.“
- Risk. If they break or leak, or even if you are worried about that happening, then there is the risk that you have to fork out another $200.
Personally, I think a $10pcm subscription model with a minimum term, would be less risky for the athlete and a more profitable offering for FORM ie the subscription covers replacement of damaged goggles in some circumstances.
Whilst FORM nicely takes ALL the low-hanging fruit, in terms of the functionality provided to the athlete, there are minor improvements that could be made but, perhaps, the most glaring omission is the lack of a summary/coach views across multiple athletes. Maybe that could be delivered through Training Peaks? Nevertheless, I would have thought a poolside coach summary would be useful for the intended market. If that’s not on the radar for future developments from FORM then I would be surprised.
They’re comfy. They’re accurate. They provide key pacing data in near real-time for optimised training. #sorted