new Garmin Swim Sensor
Info: via @John (you know who you are, thank you)
OK, so today’s news is that Garmin is DEFINITELY at a fairly advanced stage of developing a Swim Speed Sensor. Actually, there are TWO models on the cards! I’ve had this info for a couple of months but have been unable to corroborate it from more than one source…albeit an extremely reliable one.
It’s a separate accessory rather than some new software feature or algorithm. Like Garmin Vector Air it’s possible it will not reach the market but my understanding is that the swim speed sensor is at, or about at, the production stage and I would EXPECT a release this year. As it’s an accessory, a mid-July release date would be in keeping with past accessory releases.
Garmin Swim Sensor Capabilities – SPECULATION
OK, So all the rest of this is speculation as I don’t have any technical details.
- Wear position – No idea! I would imagine it will be worn away from the arms so that a more accurate and consistent speed can be measured and I’m assuming that’s done from water flow combined with motion sensing in some weird and wonderful way. It could be head-mounted as goggles; torso-mounted as a strap, or maybe even ankle-mounted like a band.
- 2 bits of hardware – there are two hardware models.
- I’d guess one is for the chemicals in a pool and the other for open water usage.
- Another option would be that one has GPS for OWS usage but for that to work it would need to be worn like a heart rate strap in reverse and for it to be across the shoulder blades and out of the water. That doesn’t sound too plausible to me.
- Other benefits – If it’s worn on the torso (the most likely) then I would imagine that flip turns will be more precisely detected and hence the time for any given length would be more precise. I think the current watch algorithms trigger a complete length retrospectively once a push-off is detected, which can’t be THAT accurate but it is accurate enough for me as it detects distance correctly enough.
- This would be a highly niche product and I would imagine it would signal that Garmin is planning an ecosystem of swim products/sensors/capabilities, perhaps targetting pro swimmers with sales spilling over to serious amateurs.
- Metrics – The only metric I know of is SPEED. If you think about what Incus Nova could do, these new Garmin products could signal a whole raft of Swimming Dynamics metrics based on torso movement and perhaps even detecting kicks. I think it QUITE PLAUSIBLE that Garmin wants to offer swimmers something more than speed, just take a look at the SwimSmooth app for the Apple Watch, which has some pretty awesome metrics and visualisation of your arm actions…way more than what Garmin offers as of today.
- Could it be like the excellent but ageing FORM Swim Goggles with live display – From a product point of view this would make some sense as Garmin already has experience with Varia Vision technology as a HUD. A variant to FORM SWIM would also make sense from a margin point of view in that Garmin could justify a high selling price and receive high margins. However, if I look at the number of downloads of the FORMSWIM CIQ data field it implies a very low number of users and hence a low market potential for Garmin. As a comparator Stryd would have had 100,000 downloads yet copying it might still have not been attractive to Garmin, patents aside.
- Data retrieval – there would need to be cached data that are retrieved at the end of a workout, similar to HRM-SWIM.
Will it sell?
A: No, not much
As nice as it is to make tech for swimmers, they typically don’t appreciate tech and instead love poolside clocks. The swimmer gadget market is small.
Triathletes like me are always a sucker for new gadgets, so despite knowing better, I guess I’d still buy one then rarely use it.
All the good swimmers I know can swim desired length times quite precisely. They don’t need a more accurate, glorified timer.
Thoughts are welcomed below.
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