FitXR Says AI and Better Tracking Will Improve VR Fitness Training
Given our obsession with keeping fit, it is no surprise that virtual reality fitness has been one of the most popular uses of the technology. Several VR fitness training apps have sprouted over the years. One of the most popular of these is FitXR whose CEO Sam Cole believes Artificial Intelligence (AI) and better tracking will result in more efficient virtual fitness training.
Cole says virtual reality fitness is still in its early days and will soon get better and more efficient thanks to Artificial Intelligence, new virtual reality headsets, and the integration of VR wearables.
The growth of virtual training was precipitated by the pandemic lockdowns that forced most of the world to keep off public spaces like gyms and focus more on an indoor fitness regimen. Subscriptions in physical gyms plummeted and VR fitness apps began seeing a boom in adoption.
Changing Habits Result in a Boom in VR Fitness
If you are a fitness enthusiast, your lifestyle conventionally revolves around the home, office, and gym. There is always a degree of separation between these three physical locations, involving a commute. With the onset of the pandemic, the work, office, and gym converged into a single location. Instead of commuting to three locations, people found themselves merely changing rooms to work, exercise, and perform domestic chores.
As a result, fitness apps such as FitXR became indispensable in fulfilling our training needs. The virtual apps created a training environment where one could complete strenuous physical exercises under the guidance of real fitness instructors in the virtual world from the comfort of their homes. Then Facebook reported a spike in the usage of virtual reality fitness apps during the pandemic. The boom in VR fitness apps also saw millions of dollars in investments flowing into this market segment.
From VR Game to a VR Gym
The fitness app BoxVR, for instance, was initially a VR game but it underwent an upgrade to a VR gym during the pandemic to meet the growing demand for virtual reality fitness. The BoxVR app was overhauled from the ground up with the addition of live fitness workouts, avatars of personal trainers as well as extra workout types such as HIIT and dancing.
BoxVR’s innovations and pivot into a VR gym was initially unpopular resulting in negative reviews. The app was renamed FitXR and switched to a subscription model with a monthly cost of $9.99. The initial resistance from the app’s user base eventually subsided and the fitness app became increasingly successful. FitXR has since seen fresh regular updates, improvements in accessibility, new content, and events. An enthusiastic virtual fitness community has also sprouted around the app.
VR Courses by Live Instructors
FitXR is also growing its team of personal trainers and in the future, could see virtual reality courses getting delivered by live instructors. FitXR has already signed up top professional trainers such as the professional wrestler Zion Clark who was born without legs and now offers fitness training on the platform for those with physical disabilities.
FitXR is working towards a future where the VR fitness courses will be provided live by instructors. It could even be possible for instructors to be present in the VR studio in person. The platform is already testing live workouts. The company says it already has the technology to support live workouts and it simply needs a full go-to-market-strategy on when it would be opportune to launch it to consumers.
Workout Feedback via AI
FitXR boss Cole is also seeing some opportunities in recorded courses. He believes that these will only grow more efficient with the help of the improved motion capture found in the upcoming virtual reality headsets as well as the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). FitXR is contemplating a future where fitness feedback could be provided according to players’ movements. Cole says this will blur the line between real-time feedback and a pre-recorded avatar and that the trainees using the app will get specific prompts on how they are playing to a point where this experience will feel like live feedback.
Beyond leveraging the improvements in AI systems, Cole also says that the fitness app could use the new capabilities in upcoming virtual reality headsets such as extra tracking cameras that will provide better arm and lower torso tracking. Thanks to these capabilities, it will soon be possible to get almost full body positional data from virtual reality headsets, Cole observes.
Enhancing the FitXR Experience
The FitXR virtual fitness experience will be enhanced by a combination of AR, a mobile app, and wearables.
FitXR has already released an Android and iOS companion app with which users can track their progress, develop workout plans and define their fitness goals from the convenience of their smartphones. The FitXR boss sees this integration as important for the future of virtual reality fitness as mobile has the potential to unlock “interesting augmented reality opportunities.”
The FitXR boss says the platform’s user base has mostly grown via word of mouth thanks to the app’s superb experiential nature. The fitness app’s CEO says these experiences can be extended through smartphones. FitXR also wants to integrate wearables through collaboration with Apple and Strava.
FitXR Expects a Tenfold Boom in VR Headset Sales
In a recent interview, Cole revealed that FitXR’s subscription base quadrupled over the past 12 months. This success was realized in spite of the COVID-19 lockdowns and the subsequent decrease in the hygiene measures that drove many people off the physical gyms and into virtual fitness apps.
Cole believes this robust growth is just the beginning. The FitXR boss believes sales of virtual reality headsets will grow tenfold over the next three years. Several VR headset releases have been planned in the near future including Pico Neo 4 (Pro), PlayStation VR 2, Meta Quest Pro (Project Cambria), and Apple’s first virtual reality headset.