Black Box VR wants to make gamers fitGeekheads Team
Start-up Black Box VR has developed a full-body workout in the form of a 30-minute virtual reality experience.
It uses a bespoke resistance training machine and an HTC Vive headset. The entire set-up is about the size of a family bathroom.
It is one of several innovations at the CES tech show in Las Vegas to propose mixing VR and fitness training.
But one expert said the firm would need to address safety concerns for the idea to be a success.
The Idaho-based firm’s solution involves participants entering a virtual arena, where they compete against an avatar and, eventually, one another.
The firm’s founders, Ryan DeLuca and Preston Lewis, were also behind the successful fitness empire bodybuilding.com.
Exercise and repeat
Black Box VR’s business plan is to open boutique gyms across the US, in which each member will enter their own “black box” space for the gamified work-out, which will track their progress.
An at-home version of the equipment could be developed in the future, the firm said.
“Most people stop going [to the gym] after a couple of weeks so adherence is something that’s a critical factor of what we’re trying to solve,” general manager Jim Bradbury told the BBC.
One VR-industry watcher said the idea had potential, but had concerns.
“Human beings in general find it hard to retain the habit of exercise and there’s been many attempts to try and make it more appealing – so, VR makes sense from the perspective of trying to make the gym less boring,” said J P Gownder from the consultancy Forrester.
“But the cost of the equipment is going to make it an expensive get-up.
“And will it be safe enough for people to use?
“I’m not aware of the Vive having been stress-tested for this kind of use, and [Black Box VR] is going to need to prove that it has taken account of impact on the body of using the headset during strenuous exercise.”