Say hello to Vi, the world’s first AI personal trainer. Created by LifeBEAM, a new player in the world of high tech fitness wearables, Vi claims to be an adaptive conversational smart personal trainer AI that develops a personal relationship with the user to track, train and coach a budding athlete to meet weight and fitness goals and improve the overall training experience. Vi promises to deliver a workout that’s more fun, motivating and effective than any other fitness wearable on the market.
The Vi concept has hit the ground running, launching from a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign and capturing the imagination of news giants such as Macworld, CNET and more. The Israel-based company behind Vi launched their original Vi Kickstarter campaign with a target goal of just $100,00 USD, but by the end of funding period had attracted a massive $1.7 million USD by thousands of eager backers.
In this article we’ll take a look at the origins of the Vi device, what it is and how it works, and help you find out whether Vi can really deliver on its promises to transform you into a better, fitter, smarter human.
What is Vi?
Vi is the first consumer wearable device to offer a true artificial intelligence designed from the ground up to interact with users and enhance their workout experience. Vi is composed of two elements- an ergonomic, form fitting hearable device that is worn by users during their workouts, and and AI personal trainer that helps users set goals, provides real-time insights and reads users their fitness app data out loud via voice control.
Training by yourself can be difficult- it’s easy to rationalise an extra break, or lesser weight, when you’re not accountable to anybody but yourself. Many fitness enthusiasts choose to motivate themselves with a personal trainer to to help them achieve their fitness goals. Vi works as a personal trainer that lives in the digital world, interacting with you via a custom set of headphones.
What does Vi do?
Vi is able to pull data from a wide range of disparate fitness apps and wearables and provide comprehensive top level summaries and analysis via a conversational artificial intelligence interface. Vi connects to almost every fitness and health app out there- Apple HealthKit, Google Fit, Fitbit, Strava, MyFitnessPal and more.
Vi users talk with Vi in the same way they’d have a natural conversation with a personal trainer. Want a readout of your current heart rate? Simply ask Vi via the headset while you’re running and Vi will listen attentively, gather the required information, and read it out to you hands free, with no physical interaction required. Vi is designed to coach runners, adapt in real time to the user's specific physiology, check in with users between workouts, and provide positive feedback and reinforcement on training results.
Vi even has predictive functionality and will make users aware when adverse weather conditions will affect their future workouts and remind users when scheduled fitness events are happening. Vi even integrates with music services such as spotify to let users control their playlists on the fly, or answer calls during their workouts with phone call management integration. Vi helps users burn fat more effectively, improve their running technique, manage exhaustion, prevent injuries and target their ideal heart rate zone for maximum workout efficiency.
How does Vi Work?
Vi pulls data from in-build sensor packages such as biometrics, heart rate, temperature, environment sensors, accelerometer and others in addition to measuring variables such as the movement of a mobile device’s six-axis gyrometer to gather an accurate picture of the fitness and behaviour of the user. Vi takes this information along with other information gathered from various fitness apps and GPS information to track the user and provide a bespoke training reponse built around their individual specific needs.
The information gathered from the sensors and other apps is fed into the Vi AI engine which analyzes the data and adapts to the user. Vi then spits the information back out in audio and text format for the user to digest. Some of the variables Vi uses to create a user analysis include heart rate, training history, location, weather, elevation, goals, user anatomy, speed, cadence and more.
Vi’s AI engine transforms this data into insights and recommendations, providing real time guidance, training plan generation, and even speech analysis that familiarizes itself with the patterns of the user's voice to ensure accurate speech interpretation.
Vi Construction and Design
The Vi headset is well designed and robust, with a textured non slip surface and touch aware biosensing earbuds. The headset folds down to a small package for storage, using magnets to hold the folded headset together neatly. The headset is ruggedized and sweatproof, and the sound experience of the headset is driven by a pair of high quality headphones made by Harman Kardon
The microphone element of the headset contains wind and noise filtering and uses signal processing algorithms to easily understand the user during heavy breathing. The Vi package comes with a set of in-ear fins to stabilize and hold the earbuds in place during heavy exercise with a custom range of sizes to guarantee comfort between all kinds of ear shapes.
Users control Vi via a mobile app that is available for both iOS and Android which is used to edit training plans, review progress, and customize Vi. During workouts the app can be used to view progress feedback in quick, glance-friendly screens. The battery powering the Vi headset is a 3.72V lithium polymer battery with a life of 8 hours, more than enough for a full day of physical activity and has a low weight of just 43 grams.
Vi Pricing and Availability
Vis currently available for preorder via the Vi website for $220 USD plus shipping. Vi estimates that the first batch of Vi systems will ship in December 2016, after which Vi will be available for $249 USD retail.