What started off as a joke has turned into an exciting proof-of-concept that could rock the XR fitness industry.
VR fitness is having a bit of a moment. Physically-active experiences like Supernatural, Audio Trip, Beat Saber, and Space Pirate Arena offers effective cardio workouts designed to get you up off of the couch, whether it be slicing multicolored cubes to the beat of an energetic soundtrack or physically running across a virtual battlefield.
That said, there is one type of workout developers have struggled to bring VR and AR, and that’s weightlifting. Recently, however, developer Cix Liv tweeted a video of himself at the ARHouseLA where he can be seen interacting with a unique AR weightlifting experience powered by the Spectacles 3, Snapchat’s latest AR-enabled glasses. In the tweet, Cix Liv said, “AR will change fitness and sports more than any technology in history,” adding, “Using weights will never be boring again!”
In the eight-second video, you can see Liv pumping iron while dressed as Thor: God of Thunder. Using the power of AR technology, the Spectacles 3 glasses project a digital hammer over the real-world dumbbell, making it appear as though Liv is wielding Thor’s mighty hammer, Mjölnir.
With each successful rep, Liv charges the legendary weapon with powerful energy. Once fully maxed out, he thrusts his hammer forward to unleash a terrifying lightning bolt into the air. If used correctly, AR technology such as this could prove revolutionary in the world of fitness.
During an interview with VRScout Liv, talked more about the origin of his Thor AR fitness experience: “It kind of started off as a joke. I worked with Arthur Bouffard, who was also at ARHouse, on the filter and we were asking ourselves what would a superhero workout look like using AR and could we make that?”
After experimenting with several potential superhero concepts, including an X-Men’s Cyclops experience that involved physically swiping the Spectacles 3 to activate mutant powers, the pair went with Marvel’s Thor primarirly because of the potential fitness aspect.
To bring the Thor AR fitness experience to life, Live and Bouffard took advantage of Spectacles hand tracking abilities in order to layer Thor’s hammer over the real-world dumbbell. According to Live, the development process was far from simple. “We started off trying curls, but because of the occlusion of the weights, it wouldn’t always see my hands. If you look closely at the video you can see that I’m repping the weight in a very symmetric pattern to make sure the cameras on the glasses could see the ridges of my hands,” explained Liv.
Once they had the concept and put all of the pieces together, Liv and Bouffard turned to Pratik Suketu, another developer working out of ARHouse at the time, to help polish up the experience.
Even though the Thor AR fitness filter may have started off as a joke, it does open up a lot of potential of what the future of fitness will look like, something Liv is very passionate about.
Liv, who is the CEO and co-founder of the VR fitness app YUR and the CEO and co-founder of the mixed reality app LIV, has spent the last few years trying to figure out how to incorporate resistance or weights into XR experiences. “We saw a lot of AR and VR fitness apps that gave you a decent cardio workout but you’re not going to get the large biceps or muscles that most people associate with working out,” he explained.
According to Live, his goal is to take existing exercises and make them interesting, fun, and more engaging. For example, instead of bench pressing a bar with weights on it, why not bench press a car or lift a giant mechanical squirrel up above your head? It might sound ridiculous, but half of the appeal of VR is doing the impossible.
Fitness trainer Jake Robinson, who has used VR apps like Beat Saber in the past, agrees: “If that approach can motivate you to push yourself and workout more, why not!”
From Liv’s perspective, there’s a future in XR sports and fitness that we are just at the tip of exploring. And he’s not alone in these thoughts. There are new VR and AR fitness apps popping up every day.“The goal is to quantify, gamify, and re-propose existing equipment into something much more interesting,” added Liv. “Those things together will create the biggest thing in fitness since the headphones.”
Unfortunately, the Thor AR fitness filter is a prototype experience for Snap’s Spectacles 3 glasses and is not available for download. That said, we’d love to see an official release sometime in the future; perhaps when/if Snap releases the Spectacles 3 to the public.
Feature Image Credit: Cix Liv