We've all seen the impact of technology in the health & fitness sector - dozens of new products have hit the market in recent years, like young puppies marking their territory, all so eager to weave themselves into the fabric of our new fitness habits.
From Fitbit & Runtastic to Jawbone & MapMyFitness, some will surely disappear as quickly as they came, others will find their niche and thrive, but what about us happy splashers, still waiting for some of this new tech to hit our local swimming pool or lido?
In a word water. Water happened. Not an absolute barrier to the latest tech but definitely a hurdle/water jump that can erode magnetic chargers, scramble Bluetooth signals and has an unfortunate habit of leaking into the most thoughtfully designed and highly engineered miniaturised parts. It's not fair to say that the sport of swimming hasn't seen its fair share of innovation and by swimming I mean the kind of happy splashing you and I might do not Messrs Phelps or Thorpe.
The Poolmate took stroke tracking poolside and onto your wrist along with SwimTag who thought out of the box by leveraging technology combining with the physical environment of the pool. Splashpath app for iPhone got rid of those hard to read and out of date PDF swim timetables and then Speedo Fit app got in on the act with virtual swim goals and a growing global swim community. Zoggs used digital to get physical and had a crossover hit from the TV screen with their Peppa Pig kids goggles too!
Obviously this just a flavour of the new tech which has been rustling in the pool lockers up and down the country, but I'm still waiting for the next big thing to hit the pool. I've been swimming up and down at my local baths for 20 years and I'm ripe for disruption! There's some great hardware & software just landed or right around the corner from Speedo Aquabeat, Swimio, & Swimdotcom to Pebble, Instabeat & Bragi Dash, but the jury is still out who will be the game changer in aquatics. Don't forget swimming is the biggest mass participation sport in the UK though it's one of the last to see the latest tech. Is v1 of Apple Watch waterproof? Is it heck. Does Apple even list swimming as a fitness activity yet? Nope, not on their radar just yet.
Building hardware is a tough gig but somebody could win big in the water, digital is a global market that breaks through the old barriers, innovation is coming thick and fast and waits for nobody! Pebble has just put the finishing touches to some major hardware grunt work and launched the waterproof 'Pebble Time', breaking records and crowd sourcing $8m in 24 hours from their backers in the process. They're sharing the love and changing the game through their open source software platform to a new breed of hungry developers. Whether it's a buzz on my wrist to push me to go faster, a post swim stats dashboard, swimming flash mobs, underwater beats or lasers, I want it all, and I want it now!
Ok, fair enough... Hold the flash mobs and maybe the lasers, with all tech it's what I don't know about yet that excites me the most...
Jamie Buck - The Leisure Database Company