Using an XR headset for at-home workouts basically looks like playing Beat Saberyou can duck, dodge, punch or slice to improve cardio and burn fat. With an increasing number of apps that essentially play on that formula, XR startup Vi hopes to change things up by letting you build muscle as well with the help of its upcoming XR glove and, eventually, its own standalone XR headset too.

Founded by serial VR fitness entrepreneur Cix Liv, the new startup Vi (‘virtual eye’) announced late last week it’s building a glove you can wear while pumping iron, letting you automatically do things like log reps and keep track of barbell weights.

Returning to VR. With a Vengeance.

Introducing Vi “virtual eye”. @ViHeadset and gloves designed specifically for fitness.

Joining me are @mentarus who built a VR glove company “Plexus”, and @marcusckane our “Jony Ive” of VR.

LET’S GO ᯅ! Thread on how we gonna do it

— CIX ᯅ/acc (@cixliv) February 16, 2024

The company isn’t speaking in-depth about the gloves for now, however Vi’s demo video above seems to suggest it’s still in early prototyping stages, with the render promising a sleeker device.

There is some info to glean from the company’s Discord (invite link) though. Product designer Eugene Nadyrshin says the ostensibly hardware agnostic controller will use custom hand-tracking models together with IMUs for sensor fusion, and include a Linear Resonant Actuators (LRA) at the back of the hand which give vibro-tactile feedback.

“As for openness we want to be as open as possible and you can be assured that we’ll be clear and open about the development journey instead of working behind a closed door for years,” Nadyrshin says, also noting that although the team isn’t making any broad commitment to OpenXR, they’re investigating it.

Image courtesy Vi, Cix Liv

You may recognize the startup’s founder Cix Liv from his other three-lettered ventures YUR, REK, and LIV, the latter of which helped popularize many VR games by letting content creators record themselves playing in the third-person. While many of Cix’s past projects focused on XR fitness, the team wasn’t founded with a fitness-focused mission in mind. Instead, Vi is what Liv calls “a pretty big pivot” from a previous idea of creating an AR app that would use computer vision to automatically price objects in your home to sell online.

And that pivot also includes creating an entire mixed reality headset dedicated to fitness:

“We will ship the gloves, then headset,” Liv writes on X (formerly Twitter). “Sell the headset at cost with a subscription for content. You’ll be able to own part of the company with a community fund-raise. We will eventually open up the cameras on the headset too.”

And why a headset? Liv says that some people need the mental and physical separation from ‘standard’ XR headsets, such as Quest:

So why a headset? Here’s why:
Hardware is very hard, but it’s also a moat.

1. Try to hand a middle age person a Quest and say “exercise in this” see how long it takes.

2. Sweat in your headset and then tell me you’re going to jump into a productivity app. Not happening.

— CIX ᯅ/acc (@cixliv) February 16, 2024

Liv suggests the company can “do most of this with industrial re-design of existing hardware references. Just being hyper focused on specific use-cases, and do initial runs by 3D printing.”

There are indeed some recent reference designs the company can co-opt, such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+ second gen reference, which Samsung may be using as a base to build its upcoming XR headset. Still, creating a standalone headset with its own operating system and app store that’s entirely separate from Meta’s or Apple’s is going to be a challenge worth watching.

In the meantime, Vi provided a few renders to give us a look at what could be one of the first fitness-focused XR headsets:

The post ‘Vi’ Wants You to Build Muscle with XR Gloves & (eventually) Its Fitness-first Headset appeared first on Road to VR.