The Oculus Quest app will allow users to turn any game into a calorie-tracked fitness experience.
The first time I worked up a sweat in VR, it was entirely accidental. I was playing a fantasy hack-and-slash, and the core battle mechanic required players to duck oncoming sword swings every few seconds. I played for about thirty to forty minutes, and to my surprise, I almost fell over when I took off the headset. Swept up in the action and fight-or-flight instincts of avoiding my own decapitation, I had been unaware of the over 100 squats I performed during the course of the first few levels. I was so sore that I was actually forced to take a break from VR for a few days, but it was exciting to realize the possibilities that VR offered for gamifying the workout experience.
While there have been plenty of VR fitness apps, and people have found amazing success in utilizing VR games to become healthy, VR users have thus far been limited to a select number of experiences that provide both the engagement of a full game with the movement necessary for an effective workout. That’s exactly what YUR is hoping to change.
In February of this year, YUR (pronounced “why you are”) announced their plans for the VR fitness market with a plug-in that would allow developers to integrate calorie tracking into their games. Now, with the launch of the Oculus Quest and its ensuing popularity, cofounders Cix Liv and Dilan Shah have focused their attention on making the accessible headset the destination for gamified fitness.
“We are building YUR to be the Peloton of the future by making fitness a game. Gaming and fitness have always been our biggest passions, and we believe there’s a growing community of people who want to combine these two passions as well,” said Liv.
Currently available through the sideloading platform SideQuest, the YUR.fit app can be installed directly onto the Oculus Quest and will run in conjunction with any game being run on the headset. During gameplay, players can use the preconfigured button combination to bring up a HUD overlay that will display the number of calories burned and provides and Apple-esque ring completion display.
The fantastic thing about this overlay approach is that unlike most other tracking apps, you don’t need to stop what you’re doing or switch apps to see your progress. This allows you to maintain your rhythm and stay focused. Many apps are also limited in what information they can gather, and will estimate calories burned based off of data that isn’t personal to how your body is moving or your metabolism. For example, in trying to increase the workout intensity of Beat Saber, I recently started wearing wrist weights while playing.
I found a mod for the game that provided a calorie-counting feature, but it, unfortunately, had no way of knowing about the weights and actually underestimated my calories burned because of the slightly slower movement of my arms. It was also impossible to record this activity in conjunction with a mobile workout app I was using, and I quickly lost the motivation to continue because of being unable to track and view progress. The team at YUR, understanding the nuances of workout motivation, found a way to solve this problem. The YUR.fit app syncs data directly to Apple Health and Google Fit, allowing for the instant integration of VR workouts into your existing fitness data.
There’s no question that technology has helped people find new ways of getting fit. But for VR fitness (and VR in general) to grow beyond a niche market, it’s necessary for it to complement the existing technology and routines people already have, and the YUR.fit app sets a fantastic example of how to do that. With an eye on integrating AI functionality in the future to allow for customized game/level suggestions and detailed player movement insight, YUR is clearly making strides in realizing their goal to, “…make gamers the athletes of the future.”
Feature Image Credit: YUR