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.

https://twitter.com/cixliv/status/1758597118040981592

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.

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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:

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:

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • knuckles625

    I get the VR workout gloves thing – mainly for boxing games. Would be neat although no app I know of would let you offset controller well enough to make use of a “weird” controller scheme. Niche peripherals all the way back to home lightguns always suffer lack of integration into the games you actually want to play them in.

    Creed, Thrill of the Fight, FitXR… aren’t very likely to add features to support a new controller, so you’re stuck hoping that this dev is able to make a better game than any of those three. To have a company with skillset to design & produce a solid hardware device and also develop a set of actually good software experiences to use it with is incredibly rare and generally requires a very large team. IMO, better to make good hardware and ship it with a workaround to emulate well in any game that takes a “normal” VR controller.

    The headset though – I’m not really sure there’s a solid reason to exist for a fitness focused headset. Is there really a large enough industrial redesign space on a reference design to do things that couldn’t be solved with an aftermarket head strap and facial interface?

    • Juan Ritz

      It seems to me that the custom controller adjustment settings in TotF would allow for proper controller offsets.

    • Cix

      Quest doesn’t allow 3rd party VR controllers, hence why we had to do the demo with the vision pro.

      Quest UX is extremely poor for exercise (or frankly anything) for people not technically savvy. There is a large market in at home fitness Peloton, Tonal etc, that care more about user experience than price sensitivity.

      • ViRGiN

        Every market is “large” in public messages when you are in that market.
        No, there is no market for this. And Meta will improve UX over time, that’s a guarantee. There is no guarantee your company will exist 6 months from now.

        • Cix

          Beat Saber is the #1 VR game.
          Supernatural is the largest acquisition of any VR game.
          Gorilla Tag the current #1 VR game.
          All of them are active/exercise. This isn’t some trivial market, and their exercise modalities are very limited by using controllers. The intensity of your comments suggests your comments aren’t constructive criticism but rather trolling.

          • ViRGiN

            Intensity? Lmao.
            The hooray-optimisn coming from you shows you are just looking forward to lie your way in to get money from investors and end up burning it all, while giving yourself a nice salary.

            Beat Saber is Beat Saber. Cult following and guess what – it was built for the controllers.
            Acquisitions don’t mean much – unless you are the one looking to be acquired for your “technology”.
            Gorilla Tag once again, was built for the controllers.
            Both of these games were hyper-cheap to make too, for already existing hardware.

            You want to come in with janky bulky hardware that noone sane will justify the price for, and you don’t have any real games yourself either.
            Everyone knows how zero percent there is support for anything other than headset+controllers in games and software. Index finger tracking – non existent. Bhaptics real native support – non existent.

            Yeah, no. You are trying to be visionary while completly missing the point of why these games caught on. Also mind telling me how much money to spend on gadgets your average free-to-play game Gorilla Tag _kid_ has?

          • Cix

            I think you know nothing about startups. Founders don’t pay themselves almost anything and only get paid if the company get acquired or IPOs.

            Def not going for the gorilla tag crowd, simply pointing out that all the popular games are directly or indirectly exercise.

            Nothing about the hardware is bulky.
            Your not the demographic, and that’s ok.

          • ViRGiN

            Yup

      • knuckles625

        No arguments about the need for fitness focused controllers, I think its a welcome product and I hope you overcome any obstacles to make that happen, as ecosystem agnostic as possible.

        Respectfully, I would argue that the Quest line (as it currently stands) is a game console, an app launcher, and to that end the main way a user experiences good or bad UX is primarily within the games/apps they play with it. Nobody bought Playstation 1 for the “insert disk” screen.

        As such, 95% of folks remotely interested in donning any (currently existing) VR headset intend to mire through the mediocre UX for what, 30 seconds every time they start the headset up and then launch the game that was the reason they put the headset on in the first place.

        I don’t see the point in sinking the egregious resources needed to design/manufacture/OS creation/support a new sub-niche VR headset a la Peloton model (profitable in for 6 months of the last 5 years) versus building a game/app that can be deployed across existing consumer platforms. Using the Peloton example, they had to start offering an ipad app (aka sans hardware) as part of their quest to return to profitability.

        If the intent is to instead create an AR fitbit that can optically classify and track exercises, realtime form coaching or something along that nature…then sure I see the need for more capabilities than current gen VR headsets can provide, but that’s leaning into “I can solve problems that Apple/Meta/Google… couldn’t” claims.

        • Cix

          XR2 gen 2 reference design go a significant amount of the way there. You don’t need to modify the industrial design a lot, and it’s a clear use-case that we can solve a significant amount of the current user experience issues by focusing.

          VR fitness has more retention than Peloton surprisingly. We feel there is a significant untapped market there and plan on addressing it.

          • ViRGiN

            Yup that’s going to happen, you will solve all the issues.

  • Rob Walker

    I find exercising in Quest 3 an even better experience now because the form factor means less inertia / movement of the headset as you move. As Knuckles625 said, you (only) need for this use case a good after market headstrap and facial interface. Designing a new headset for exercising is OTT and dòomed to fail. Same goes for gloves. It’s just too niche unless VR headsets become common like mobile phones.
    IMO, if they want to succeed, they should just focus building the best muscle building app they possibly can, for Quest 3 and 4 (which will be releasing by the time they finish their dev) and use Quest Pro controllers on the back of the users wrist. This will provide haptics and non-line-of-headset sight robust tracking (like Dance Dash game uses Quest controllers attached to the top of your shoe).

    • Cix

      not to discredit the claim here, but there is a massive amount of UX issues with the Quest for non-technical people to figure it out. Some demographics care more about ease of use than price sensitivity.

      Would think of this more as a competitor to the peloton, tonal etc. than a competitor to the quest.

      • ViRGiN

        Same shit was said by Etee, that controller buttons are too complex and they had a ‘solution’ for it, solution that nobody really asked for, and their product arrived years late and was extremely subpar and noone gives an F about it after kickstarter.

        I’m not even going to wish you good luck with your projects; it’s just going to flop.

        • Cix

          Beat Saber is the #1 VR game.
          Supernatural is the largest acquisition of any VR game.
          Gorilla Tag the current #1 VR game.
          All of them are active/exercise. This isn’t some trivial market, and their exercise modalities are very limited by using controllers. The intensity of your comments suggests your comments aren’t constructive criticism but trolling.

          • ViRGiN

            Bla bla bla. You are parroting Etee crappy marketing.

          • Cix

            k bro

          • kool

            Don’t mind him, he can’t help himself. Do you guys plan on adding any sparring or training tools for MMA or boxing? I’d take a beat saber like gameplay and adjust it to different fighting styles!

          • ViRGiN

            that’s so cool bro!

          • kool

            Isn’t it tho!

  • Good luck to Cix and his team!

    • Cix

      thanks tony!

  • Mario Colindres

    Qualcom lense is good but the hololens 1 is pretty awsome too.

  • Cix

    will look into this thanks

    • XRC

      No problem, hope you can bring your hardware to market; it’s not easy but sometimes you just gotta do it

      unintended patent infringement killed my modular steamVR controller project dead, after 2 years of hard work, but was somewhat lucky to escape without further consequences…