How VR Health Helps Cut back Train Friction


With gyms and fitness centers among the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, it’s no surprise that home fitness – and sales of the products that support them – soared during the pandemic. Many bought exercise equipment, weights, pelotons, yoga mats, and all sorts of other equipment: According to NPD retail data, sales of health and fitness equipment more than doubled to $ 2.3 billion from March through October. Stationary bike sales tripled while treadmills shot 135 percent; Peloton recorded sales of $ 758 million in 2020, up 232 percent over the same period last year.

During the same period, interest in and sales of virtual reality headsets also increased. Stuck inside for months, many found refuge in VR in order to escape from their own places of residence, so to speak. While we don’t know the exact number of VR headset sales in the wild today, there is reason to believe that number is now in the tens of millions. PlayStation VR alone had sold 5 million units as of January 2020, and that’s just one of the many VR headsets on the market; There is speculation that the Quest 2 tripled its sales rate. Likewise, 71 percent of headset owners say they spent more time in VR during the pandemic.

a person who uses VR fitness for boxingVR box fitness with FitXR.

Analysts agree. “From the launch of Quest 2 to now (the nine months from October 2020 to June 2021), VR hardware sales have increased 163% year over year,” NPD consumer electronics analyst Ben Arnold told Dealerscope. “We assume that 2021 will end the year 40 to 50% above the sales level that we saw for 2020.”

This combination has found some kind of synergistic overlap in the rising popularity of virtual reality home workouts. In fact, VR fitness can take many forms. For example, Supernatural sends objects and targets towards you, asking you to crouch under the former and slam the latter, advancing through different locations around the world in the process. FitXR, on the other hand, makes use of the competitive spirit: Up to six other VR users take part in boxing or cardio dance courses, while the users try to outperform their opponents in speed and skill tests. RacketNX is like pinball meets racquetball. There are also quite a few experiences on the market that “accidentally train” timings), as well as the grueling climbing simulator The Climb. (Although they are not typically branded and marketed as workout experiences, many people use these games as such.) Many of these experiences use subscription-based business models that give subscribers access to new routines and workouts every month.

In terms of user interface, not all of these VR practice experiences are stand-alone. Several VR bike apps require the user to own a dedicated stationary bike or, more conveniently, an affordable sensor that any stationary bike can work with in VR. (Some apps, like Holofit, are compatible with any bike that supports the FTMS Bluetooth protocol – no additional sensors are required.) Likewise, multiple apps allow users to control their existing elliptical or rowing machines in a similar way with one software incorporate that is based on the unique types of fitness interfaces that they offer. Instead of rowing or biking in the living room, one can instead row through exotic locations around the world, with dynamic goals and challenges rather than self-imposed.

In terms of hardware, popularity seems to be centered on the Oculus Quest and Quest 2 headsets for a handful of reasons. Both versions are among the cheapest VR headsets on the market; If you work up a sweat on any device, it’s better to use a $ 300 quest than a $ 1,000 valve index. The Quest also has perhaps the largest selection of exercise-oriented titles (although many are certainly available on other platforms). Most importantly, it seems to be the Quest’s all-in-one nature that seems to make it the platform of choice for training in VR. Instead of being tied to a PC with a bunch of pesky cables, the freedom to move around casually indoors or outdoors (of course, still mind the furniture / windows / pets / cliffs) ensures a freer, more natural training experience.

VR Fitness is used for dance workoutsVR dance fitness with ‘Beat Saber’.

Even as the pandemic becomes less acute, it is likely that many will continue to exercise from home. One of the main drivers here is convenience, and VR certainly benefits from it. Instead of driving or commuting to the gym for a 30- to 60-minute workout, simply putting on a headset for a few shorter workouts throughout the day can have the same cumulative effect and break up the day better. The fact that these experiences are “gamified” – that is, built on technology and game mechanics that make training more engaging and less arduous – is also an important factor. In some studies, it was found that the so-called “Perceived Effort Rating” – that is, participants’ assessment of how hard they work while exercising – is lower for VR exercises than for typical exercises. . In other words, the perceived effort is less than it actually is, which leads to better results and longer term commitments. And isn’t that what the exercise is about? Fitness apps represent another potential killer app for the rapidly advancing and expanding virtual reality technology, and retailers would be well advised to take advantage of this unique opportunity to get more consumers to exercise at home.