You can load up on fancy fitness trackers and heart rate monitors, but they won’t do diddly-squat when submerged under a foot or two of water. When former pro swimmer Hind Hobeika realized this, she set about to create Instabeat, a swim tracking system for elite athletes and recreational paddlers alike. Photo: Instabeat

What’s the Deal

While training with the American University of Beirut’s swim team, Hobeika was frustrated that she couldn’t keep track of her vital stats. As a former professional swimmer, she was used to training at specific heart rates, which can be difficult to gauge without the use of technology. So with a team of designers and tech gurus based in her native Lebanon, Hobeika built the Instabeat, the first waterproof heart rate monitor designed for swimmers, by swimmers.

Why It Matters

Over the past five years, the Quantified Self movement has transformed from an outlying group of gadget-lovers to a major trend in the health and fitness space. Now the Instabeat tracker is taking QS to the pool. The small blue device clips on to any pair of goggles and rests on the side of the head near the right temple. The waterproof (duh!) tracker gets its data from the temporal artery, eliminating the need for a bulky chest strap or drag-creating wrist monitor. So how does it work? Instabeat turns on automatically when strapped to the head and flashes a color (blue for fat burning, green for fitness, and red for maximum performance) on the goggle lenses depending what heart rate zone the swimmer has reached. After getting back on dry land, techy swimmers can plug the device into a computer with a USB cord and keep track of laps and calories burned.

Creating a functional, easy-to-use swim tracker could have some meaningful consequences for exercise in general. Swimming is a great workout, but it’s not always the most accessible. In addition to finding a pool with open hours, it can be difficult for recreational swimmers to know how much (or little) they’re working. Without a machine to adjust settings, it’s pretty much the opposite of hopping on the treadmill for two miles. Aside from keeping track of time, there’s no way for even habitual swimmers to measure their workout intensity like runners and cyclists regularly do. Who knows? Hobeika’s sleek tracker could turn swimming into the next, connected fitness trend.

Is It Legit?

Hopefully, but not quite yet. Currently, Instabeat is still in the fundraising stage of the game. Over the past few years, the company has streamlined and redesigned the technology to make it as user-friendly, unobtrusive, and accurate as possible. The final product will be available for around $150 when Instabeat raises enough money to start mass production. If fitness tracking gets your heart a-flutter, head over to the Indiegogo campaign page for more details on Instabeat and to learn how to help this product go from idea to reality.

Would you wear a heart rate tracker in the pool? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet the author @SophBreene.