Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been the talk of 2017 in the technology world. Both have been teased and demonstrated for several years now, but throughout 2017 we’ve seen both technologies reach consumers in new ways. Now, VR and AR (which are collectively described as “mixed reality”) are firmly established and already changing things in gaming, entertainment, and many other aspects of life.
We’ll soon be adding exercise to that list. While fitness has not been a primary concern of mixed reality developers and companies, there are already some early demos that indicate it could become a competitive area. And for those who like to explore new workout ideas, that should be welcome news! Here are three ways in which VR and AR will be introducing new workouts.
Universal Competitive Training
Thanks to the booming business of exercise apps, there are already ways to compete with friends remotely. But thanks to augmented reality, that competition has gotten a little bit more direct and probably a little bit more fun. Specifically, it’s a brand new app called AR Runner that appears poised to change the game. Described in a sentence as a chance to run through checkpoints and set new records, it can basically set up an obstacle course made for timed sprints. You point your phone ahead of you, the AR program makes it look as if the checkpoints exist in physical space, and you run through them, presumably trying to beat your own time or that of a friend.
On its own, this is an intriguing app with a lot of promise to incentivize new workouts through competition. But it could also be viewed as a sign of things to come. There are all kinds of similar workouts that could be designed, focusing on agility, speed, and even specific sports skills.
Cycling Around The World
While the technology of mixed reality itself is exciting and the performance of relevant devices is vital, one of the most important aspects of all of this is the creation of compelling environments. As one discussion on VR gaming put it, part of the entire point of VR is to escape reality and jump into a world where you can be and do whatever you want. That’s certainly true with regard to gaming, but imagining a similar version of the notion relating to exercise introduces some fascinating possibilities. What if we could merely escape our own settings and jump into the real world anywhere we wanted to be?
This hypothetical is becoming a reality thanks to a handful of programmers exploring the blending of VR and exercise bikes. While some of these programmers have had more success than others, this new type of exercise is poised to take off. Home workout bikes may soon come with VR compatibility to allow people to put on a headset and disappear to any trail or road in the world for a more interesting exercise session.
Brand New Machines
The first two ideas we discussed revolve around existing gadgets and machines infused with new technology. But there’s also potential for VR to launch a whole new wave of workout machines that are designed specifically for it. The leading example right now is a machine called Icaros that has been designed by a startup in Munich, Germany. The machine supposedly blends the physical and virtual worlds, making you the protagonist of your own video game in a way that works your muscles. You’re essentially strapped into a machine, facedown and suspended above the ground, in a machine that allows you to twist, turn, and use your arms and legs. You’ll do so according to the movements you need to make in the game you’re visualizing through VR.
This is just one example, but it’s a nice reminder that VR is only just getting started, and there could be a lot of fun exercise equipment on the way.