With Google Glass yet-to-launch publicly, the jury is still out on what will be the wearable computer’s killer apps. With its hands-free operation, pedestrian navigation and points-of-interest seem an obvious use-case. But perhaps exercise could be another. That’s certainly the opinion of London-based Race Yourself, which has already raised over £100,000 in seed funding on the equity-crowdfunding platform CrowdCube to help it launch its fitness app for Glass.
Building on the tracking/motivation premise of something like RunKeeper or Nike Fuel Band, the idea behind GlassFit is to gamify running or other types of exercise by utilising the kinds of augmented reality experiences that are possible on Glass. So, for example, imagine racing live against your previous all-time ‘personal best’, or your average time 3 months ago, or anytime in your GlassFit history. There will be social features, too, so you can race against friends.
The same idea is being applied to cycling, where things like acceleration period or those pesky traffic lights are taken into account. In fact, upon launch, Race Yourself plans to launch with hundreds of mini-games for GlassFit. One of my favourite is where you’re chased by a bunch of augmented reality zombies. If that doesn’t get you moving, I don’t know what will.
“Exercise is incredibly good for you. Gaming is incredibly addictive and enjoyable. Our goal is make exercise incredibly addictive and enjoyable through augmented reality exercise experiences on, primarily, Google Glass,” explains Race Yourself co-founder Alex Foster. “We are offering similar promises; more motivation, tracking, competition… but visually and live, that is, the user knows if they are beating or falling behind their personal best or target pace the whole way through the run.”
Utilising other sensors on Glass, the app will also incorporate things like “touch your toes” or tap to pause. In addition, the UK startup says it’s developed an “injury mode” that takes into account when you’re carrying an injury or likely to acquire one, such as pushing more dynamic/static stretches when required. Unsurprisingly, I’m not the fitness type so I have no idea what that means either.
The business model of GlassFit also takes its cues from the gaming industry, inspired by titles such as Clash of Clans or League of Legends. “We offer over a hundred games and feature upgrades to keep the experience alive,” says Foster. “The user earns points from burning calories, beating personal bests and building streaks. These points can be used to unlock games off the honeycomb UI. The better the game/feature the harder it is to unlock. Any unlock can be shortcut, and it is those shortcuts that we charge for and make money from. We also sell heart rate monitors and speedometers that certain functions require to use.”
While the GlassFit launch will be timed to co-incide with Google’s full Glass launch, the UK startup is planning to run a pre-sales/Kickstarter campaign in the next month or two. That seems like a somewhat risky strategy given that the market for Google Glass so far is pretty niche. Unless, of course, once publicly available, Race Yourself thinks that Google will quickly make a Glasshole out of us all.