Conversations with Rasmus Barfred: Building the perfect swim goggle.

Swim goggles are ripe for disruption. The problem? Water leaking into the interior. Anyone who’s put on a pair knows the story. It’s annoying. It’s distracting. It’s uncomfortable. And that’s just when you’re messing around. For athletes like swimmers and triathletes who rely on them to shield their eyes, leaky goggles can be a concentration killer. Nobody needs that. THEMAGIC5 have set out to shake things up one snug-fitting, leak-proof goggle at a time. With the help of face scanning technology, a mobile app, and a few other proprietary secrets, they are churning out the only custom made goggles on the market. 

Rasmus Barfred, one of THEMAGIC5’s co-founders, spent some time discussing their one of a kind goggles.

Can we start with some background about THEMAGIC5? Where did the idea come from?

It basically came from ourselves. Bo Haaland and I were swimming one day and we didn’t like our goggles. We used to compete in triathlons. All the goggles we tried didn’t fit us. They would always leak and they were uncomfortable to wear. I think especially coming from a triathlon background, it’s a very gear heavy sport. People are used to looking at tons of different bikes and wheels and running shoes and everything. When it comes to goggles, it seemed like everything was basically the same offering, a one-size-fits-all product. We wanted to make something that fit better and was more comfortable to wear

What is it about sort of traditional goggles that tend to make them leaky?

If you look at goggles, you can divide them into two categories — goggles that fit in your eye socket and goggles that fit like a mask. Regardless of what option you go for, those goggles are one size fits all. The gasket is the same across all the goggles. The only option you have to make customizations is by tightening or loosening the strap of the goggles. For some goggles you are able to change the pattern of the nosepiece that goes on top of your nose. That can adjust whether you have a really big nose, small nose, three eyes, wide distance between your eyes or narrow face with a more narrow distance between your eyes. If you look at 100 different people, they will have very different eye sockets. A lot of men have really really deep eye sockets. Meanwhile, a lot of women have eye sockets that aren’t as deep.

We wanted to make a product where the gasket, the part that actually touches your face, has curvature should match your eye sockets. The idea from the beginning was that If we could do that, then our goggles wouldn’t leak because it would reflect the curvature of your eye socket. Then you would only need to apply minimal tension to the strap.

Would you say that the main thing that differentiates magic five goggles from other companies?

Yes, everyone gets goggles that are tailor made to their eye sockets.

Can you just discuss goggle design? 

There are certain things you want to achieve with goggles besides the fit. You want to make sure that the visibility in goggles is great so that your span of vision is as good as possible. That’s actually one of the cornerstones that we focus on in the actual design of the goggle.

In terms of materials, what are the goggles made with?

Our goggles are using the same materials as high end goggles. The straps can be made of different types of silicon materials. The goggles that we custom produce for each customer is a made with a special material that we developed. It’s not something you’d be able to find in other goggles.

Can you discuss THEMAGIC5 app and how that ties into the whole design process? How does that help make unique goggles for each individual?

Again, we first need to focus on what is custom made for the customer. It’s the gasket. Together with the nosepiece, it is the only thing that’s 100% custom made. It is by far the most complicated and important. 

Before we can make a gasket, we need to know what your face looks like. The first step is to scan the face. When that scan is completed, we create a 3D model of the face where we can measure the curvature of your facial structures down to one millimeter accuracy. We’re particularly focused on the eye socket because that’s what we need. But that’s actually not the most complicated part. When we have the face then we need to understand what the product needs to look like before it actually fits you. 

Our fitting technology basically approximates the perfect fit of goggles on your face. It creates a data output model that we use in production. Scanning itself doesn’t enable us to make the product. You need the fitting technology to understand what the goggles would look like. 

During the early days of the pandemic in spring, THEMAGIC5 supplied goggles to healthcare workers. How did that come about?

I had read an article about how the county of Denmark started buying swimming goggles as alternative PPE. At first I thought that sounds stupid. Then I thought that if that’s the only thing they have, it might be better than nothing. Basically the day that we read the news, we reached out to a couple thousand of our customers in NYC. We said hey guys do you know any EMTs who’d like to test our goggles if they can be used in the frontline. We sent fifty goggles for free to see if it makes sense.

In 48 hours, we heard back from the EMTs. They said hey this is great. Of course, it’s not perfect. They aren’t safety goggles designed for protective purposes. Anyway, we moved forward and things were put in motion. We created a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the goggles and asked if people can help us cover the charges. They did. We sent out 600 goggles.

If we could just help a tiny bit, we were happy with that.


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