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Smart goggles easy on the eyes

By Julie Clothier for CNN

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The goggles project the number of laps traveled and the time in the lens in front of the swimmer's eyes.

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Technology (general)

(CNN) -- When swimmers want to improve their speed in the pool, checking a wristwatch can take up precious time.

A Welsh design graduate has come up with a solution -- by creating a device that displays race time and laps completed inside a pair of goggles.

Katie Williams created a prototype of the goggles as part of her design degree at Brunel University in West London.

As a high school student, Williams worked as a part-time lifeguard at her local pool and says she used her experience there for inspiration.

She told CNN that she would often see swimmers adapt their swimming style in order to take a glance at their wrists so they could check their time.

The alternative, looking at the large "pace clocks" on swimming pool walls that have only a second hand, also requires effort and time, Williams says.

"When you're swimming, remembering how many lengths you've swum can be hard. I know that when I used to swim, I would trick myself into thinking I'd done 25 laps when maybe I'd only done 20," she says.

Her system ensures swimmers do not lose count.

"I saw a gap in the market so tried to come up with something to fill it."

Williams' system incorporates an electronic device, which houses a compass, at the back of the headstrap on the goggles.

She says it is light and does not feel too different from wearing an ordinary pair of goggles.

There is also a small button on the side of the goggles, which activates and deactivates the device when pressed.

When a swimmer enters the pool, they press the button once, which signals to the compass the direction the swimmer will be traveling.

When the swimmer turns, the compass detects that the co-ordinates have changed and registers the time.

The information, including the total time spent swimming, the number of laps completed and the speed traveled are shown in a tiny heads-up display inside the goggle lens, using a system that reflects information off tiny mirrors.

Williams says she believes there is a demand for her product, but she says the challenge has been finding a cost-effective way to display the information.

Her work was among several students' show cased recently at Brunel University's annual design expo, called Good Thinking.

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