I am a big fan of gamifying virtually anything. It’s a proven method of motivation as well as productivity in the workplace. It also helps keeps people more centered on health and fitness. The New Zealand-based startup ARX hopes to bring some of that gamification to gyms around the world. And I can’t tell you how excited I am for this product.
What is ARX?
When I tried to Google search ARX, I came up with a menagerie of things unrelated to gaming fitness. I had to dig around a bit to find exactly what it was. Finally, I came across a bit of information.
Essentially, ARX is a start-up business-to-business company in the pursuit of bringing fitness gamification to gyms. Founded by Chentur Thambiah and Joe Chang, the company hopes to have a headset in as many locations as possible.
Although the co-founders attributed the “ah-ha!” moment just after the release of Pokemon Go, this is something Xbox users have done for years – augmented reality. This is the exact reason why I love the Kinect so much.
The headpiece is made with the lightweight Epson Moverio headset to enhance augmented reality while pushing the fitness software. In essence, you’re in a game where your movements make all the difference.
The hope is to induct ARX into a multiplayer environment.
How Augmenting Reality Is Helpful for Fitness
ARX isn’t the only platform which augments reality for fitness. Like I mentioned before, the Kinect is a kind of predecessor as players put their own bodily actions into a game.
The reason why augmenting reality is so beneficial is because it reduces the effects of boredom. There’s a reason why fitness trends peak after New Year’s Day and pitter out by April or May. It’s difficult to maintain an activity that seems mundane and monotonous.
Augmenting Reality through ARX has potential for an endless supply of physically active games that keeps the mind entertained while making fitness more of a form of entertainment. Instead of viewing going out to the gym as a chore, it becomes more of a social gaming platform.
Most activities that have a layer of competition are often more engaging. There’s a reason why popular sports have a scoring system. And augmenting reality may be a good way to help the millions of obese people around the world…including myself.
Challenging Yourself and Friends
One of the reasons why I like Exercise.com so much is because it keeps my records. This helps me stay motivated as I like to break those records and accomplish fitness goals. From what I can get regarding ARX is that the records are far more accurate.
For one thing, Exercise.com relies on the honor system. This means you can record that you did 1000 push-ups when in reality you can only do 10.
ARX makes it more difficult to cheat which makes it more fun for those who relish in fair competition.
One of the elements that make this ideal for me is the leaderboard. It’s an aspect of gamifying fitness that a lot of organizations have put into practice. For example, you can amass a number of friends in Fitbit and compete for who can take the most number of steps in a week.
ARX is similar in its leaderboards as it saves your data as well as that of your friends.
Beyond Traditional Exercises
While the premise behind ARX is to earn points for doing traditional exercises, I hope the company takes it a step further. For example, one of my favorite Kinect games is Avengers: Battle for Earth. While you don’t do a lot of push-ups playing the game, you are boxing your heart out, jumping and lifting your limbs to perform special moves.
I’m not saying that ARX needs to hook up with the developers of Mortal Kombat, but can you imagine how popular that would be? The revenue would be amazing for both companies involved. They just need to include a warning about hitting objects.
The last thing you want to do is round-house Grandma when she walks into the room.
Wouldn’t a VR System Work Better for Engagement?
Virtual Reality headsets are growing in popularity. I probably won’t have one until the price comes down from its current $800 tag. Although VR does have potential for taking fitness to a whole new level beyond AR, or augmented reality, the technology is a bit limiting.
For one thing, it would be incredible easy to trip on a cable from the head and handsets for VR. The bulkiness of the headset would also be a problem during activities that involved more movement.
I have a hell of a time trying to do a push-up with my bluetooth headset on my head.
At the moment, VR technology is simply not ideal for actual physical fitness. Don’t get me wrong, I can see why a lot of people would want one including myself. But the reality is VR is just too clunky to be of heavy active use – for now.
Eventually, VR will catch up to the versatility of ARX. But in the mean time, who knows what the company will accomplish.
Calculating the Cost
Unfortunately, I can’t find any solid information regarding how much the ARX headset is going to be…or even if it’s coming to the states for individual use. Based on previous like-minded or related devices, I can only assume that it’s going to be more than $1,000.
If someone knows better, feel free to drop me a message on Twitter.
Anyway, that’s the rub. It’s often the price of new gadgets like this that keep people from being fit. I make less than $25,000 per year and am barely able to pay my bills. In reality, I probably will never have one of these because I don’t have an extra thousand dollars to throw around.
It’s poor people such as myself who lose out on ingenious pieces of technology that has potential to be life-changing. I hope I’m wrong and that everyone will eventually have access to ARX or similar devices.
It’s All About Gaming
Gamification works in almost any platform. The ARX unit is just another example of what can be done with great potential to help people keep motivated for health and fitness. Find a way to keep your mind fresh while exercising. Keep from getting sucked into boredom and improve every aspect of your life.