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Black Box VR wants to help gamers get fit

Say goodbye to buffering, and hello to getting buff.

Can gaming really helping you reach your fitness goals? The founders of one particular start-up seem to think so.

Black Box, a company that’s been exhibiting at CES 2018 over in Las Vegas, has developed a bespoke training machine that works with the HTC Vive VR headset to give you a full body workout.

What’s more, the game makes getting active and healthy into a seriously competitive deal. Once you slip on the headset, you have the chance to test yourself against an avatar and see how you measure up. The long-term plan is that participants will eventually compete against one another to be the fittest gamer alive.

The guys behind this idea are none other than Ryan DeLuca and Preston Lewis; the same people who founded the now-wildly successful site Bodybuilding.com. They have a really interesting vision of the future of gyms.

The idea is that Black Boxes will be installed in activity centres around the US where users can go to login and play them. So, instead of hitting the running machine, you’d slip on a headset.

“Most people stop going [to the gym] after a couple of weeks so adherence is something that’s a critical factor of what we’re trying to solve,” Jim Bradbury, the firm’s General Manager, recently explained to the BBC.

As logical as that may be, not everyone is as thrilled about the idea as he is. In fact, some experts have expressed concerns over how safe the gaming (or workout) experience will actually be. They say that some further tests will need to be done before the technology can truly become mainstream.

“Human beings in general find it hard to retain the habit of exercise and there’s been many attempts to try and make it more appealing – so, VR makes sense from the perspective of trying to make the gym less boring,” J P Gownder from the consultancy firm, Forrester, told the BBC.

“But the cost of the equipment is going to make it an expensive get-up. And will it be safe enough for people to use? I’m not aware of the Vive having been stress-tested for this kind of use, and [it] is going to need to prove that it has taken account of impact on the body of using the headset during strenuous exercise.”

So, could VR be the future of gyms and fitness in general? Well, it’s far too early to say right now. Still, gamifying your exercise routine does sound pretty darn fun and, dare I say it, addictive. it’s certainly worth a try!

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