Virtual Perceptions

The Immersive Wire
Weekly analysis of the immersive industry
By Tom Ffiske // 29 July 2020
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Pretty sure my body is now 30% ginger tea
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Let's talk about VR fitness games. The fitness marketplace is fascinating because it's one of the few areas where customers are willing to splash more cash. An extra 50p for premium bread? What a waste. £39 a month for a Peloton subscription, plus £1,895 for the bike? Bargain. Worth over $100bn globally, the fitness industry is growing because of low- and high-cost initiatives.  

I mention this because VR has a bad wrap for being expensive - which it is. Arguably it needs to be a little cheaper before more people buy a headset, or wait until the Christmas season (*cough* Oculus might be doing this *cough*). But the group that already has a VR headset has more discretionary income to spend, fitting the same Venn diagram of fitness fanatics who want a premium fitness experience. The people who buy VR are more likely to spend more on fitness. 

The segment has a bright future. I had the opportunity to try out FitXR, a 'virtual fitness studio' from the creators of BoxVR that will release tomorrow. I tried out the boxing-inspired workouts in the virtual studio, working up a sweat. The virtual professional instructors lack the presence of real guiders, but it still pushed me hard. I can see the appeal; my muscles didn't. 

Others agree. Venture capital firm Hiro Capital led a Series A round for FitXR, while previous backers BoostVC, Maveron, and TenOneTen Ventures invested more. 'The success of BoxVR has taught us that there is a massive public appetite for a fun and engaging way to work out that can be done from the comfort of your own home,' said Sameer Baroova, co-founder of FitXR. 

Would I keep doing VR fitness games? Not all the time; I miss bouldering with friends, as the social aspect pushed me to work harder. A sense of community is a rising trend in the fitness world, and VR companies should build them as well. But as an intense alternative while working from home, it's fun to try out. 
  • Everyone needs to protect their VR headset. How about a... military-grade option? VRgineers and NovBox unveiled XTAL NovBox, which holds a XTAL 8K 180° in a heavy duty, military grade suitcase. by comparison, mine looks like a wet paper bag. 
  • Want to support university students? Leeds Extended Reality Society is running the Creative Applications of XR conference on 1 August, showcasing what they want to achieve. Support students where you can! 
  •  Highways England (HE) hired MXTreality to create a training programme. This was the first such training programme delivered by HE, allowing operators to experience how their use effects traffic flow and how decisions impact driver satisfaction.
  • Want to do some mind-mapping in VR? A full version of the Noda app for PC VR on Oculus and Steam VR headsets will be released on 25 August. Check out more details on Steam. 
  • BehaVR is running a VR in healthcare event. It runs all day every day next week, so have a peek if it tickles your fancy. 
  • Vicon updated its VR software platform, Evoke. It supports full-body tracking for up to 200 objects, and provides better tracking capabilities.
    • 'We are extremely focused on the continued innovation of our VR solutions in order to make these experiences as seamless as possible, while enabling venue operators to be able to create unforgettable, yet profitable VR experiences,' said Tim Massey, product manager at Vicon.
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If your company has made a significant promotion or hire, please let me know by replying to this email. 

Helen is a multi-disciplined Creative Director, specialising in the dynamic intersection where technology, humans and music meet. At Solarflare Studio she works with brands, artists and non-profit organisations to help them harness the connective powers of frontier technologies, to tell their stories in new divergent ways.

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