Swimming & Innovation – Wearable that Speaks to you

Hard to believe that the 2016 Olympics just ended yesterday. Gladly, there hasn’t been any controversy over swimwear or any ‘technological doping’. There were some disparaging reactions over ‘drug doping’ by Lilly King and Mack Horton, angst over the water quality for open water events, some pools turning green, and a fabricated robbery that stole very little thunder from some of the great performances in the pools of Rio.

After the ‘technological doping’ scandal in the 2009 Rome Games the swimming authorities clamped down on what can be considered a swimsuit in competitive swimming. Despite the restrictions, the major players like Speedo and TYR continued to innovate while staying within the limitations imposed by the authorities. I whole heartedly support these innovations.

In parallel to swimwear innovation, I expect an explosion of use of smart technology for training our next generation of swimmers; we already are seeing many in the form of video cameras and wearables. Most of these wearable are of, as I call, ‘fit-bit’ genre. In my mind, the next push will be for devices that not only collect performance stats but also provide instant feedback with minimal disruption. In addition, have the ability to load pre-programmed training regimes. Marlin seems to fit the bill very well.

Placement of the device on the swimmer’s body is very crucial for accurate feedback. The device should not interfere with the swimming, should not create unnecessary drag, and should not allow water to interfere with signal reception, if GPS enabled. Similar to some other devices, e.g., Swimbot, the main unit of Marlin is positioned at the back of the head.

Source : http://www.platysens.com

Marlin, which has multiple motion sensors, collects critical performance stats, like distance, speed, lap count, lap time, etc., and communicates those to the swimmer real-time via the bone conductive headset. The designers of Marlin claim that the device can be pre-programed with training routines to guide while training. Marlin also allows the performance data to be synched up with an app on iOS or Android devices for later analysis.

An extended version of Marlin is GPS enabled – good news for the swimmers training for triathlon. The swimmer can program Marlin with a pre-determined course, and it will provide instant feedback if there is any deviation from the course (very similar to OnCourse goggles, difference being, one is audible and the other is visual.).

Overall, it is a great product with effective combinations of ideas previously seen in other wearable devices. The designers of Marlin are raising funds – check out KickStarter. Even though I do not have any affiliation or alliance to Marlin, I am a big proponent of technology and innovations; more so, for anything that promotes swimming, brings awareness to water safety, and encourages more people to swim.

– Meghna Sil


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