If you run, there are loads of ways to track your performance – from watches to apps. Similarly with cycling. But when it comes to swimming there is nothing. Zilch. Nada. And that was Julian Swan’s frustration when he was triathlon training. He could get real-time performance data to monitor his progress perfectly well until he got into the pool. And that wasn’t good enough for product designer, Julian Swan. So he challenged The Imagination Factory, the product design business he founded alongside Mark Hester, to solve the problem.

The team’s first breakthrough was coming across the Sony SmartEyeglass. They realised that its holographic waveguide, with a high-resolution display that gives an incredibly high definition, was the first major step towards a solution. However, while the development kit from Sony was great, it wasn’t designed to go underwater. And that’s when Raspberry Pi lent a hand. The team developed a way of driving the display using a Pi Zero to make a simple demonstrator. Once it was working, they put it inside a 3D printed waterproof enclosure designed to attach to goggles, and tested it in the pool. And the results were spectacular – with the display working even better in water than it does in air. The next step was to test the display on athletes. Again, the feedback was very positive, giving Julian, Mark and the rest of the team the confidence they had a great product/market fit.

The development of SwimAR continued, and now the team is in the process of finding the right investors to help them launch the product in the near future.

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