Virtual reality has the potential to change many industries, but gaming is the one where it has hit hardest so far. London-based startup FitXR, however, is combining VR's gaming prowess with another industry VR has the potential to turn on its head: fitness and exercise.
FitXR's first product is a game named BoxVR, which simulates boxing while wearing a VR headset, such as an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, and helps players burn calories. This gamifies the exercise -- in the words of FitXR founder Sam Cole, "We don't want users to realize they're exercising at all." BoxVR has won multiple awards since its release, including the Best VR Fitness Game Of The Year 2017 from VR Fitness Insider, Top Selling App on the Oculus Store and Top 5 Selling App on Steam in January.
BoxVR also has a personal fitness trainer, powered by artificial intelligence, which helps the player burn more calories and get better at boxing. FitXR has hired some personal trainers too, which help users train better and use the BoxVR product more efficiently.
FitXR has plans for gamified exercise apps in other areas too, including cycling, to create a platform for VR exercise, all with the end goal of motivating people to exercise more through games.
Co-founders Sam Cole and Sameer Baroova met while studying at Cambridge University. Cole had five years of experience in venture capital and private equity, while Baroova had spent 15 years in the games industry, and was head of Mobile Development at PopCap, developers of Plants vs Zombies and Bejewelled, when the company was acquired by EA for $1.2 billion in 2011. The two had chatted about how gyms were boring and a tech company could revolutionize the industry by providing immersive exercise experiences. VR provided the ideal opportunity for this, and so FitXR was born.