With the onset of improved artificial intelligence, fitness devices are getting a makeover. The latest example is the Vi, the voice-activated, AI-based personal trainer from LifeBeam.
LifeBeam’s expertise in AI wearables comes from its experience developing technology for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Air Force.
Vi is built into biosensing earphones with sound powered by Harman Kardon. It brings consumer AI to the next level by adapting to a person’s behavior, environment, and physiology to deliver tailored, real-time coaching that makes workouts more fun, motivating, and effective, the company said.
“Vi is not like anything people will have heard or seen before. She is a listening, talking trainer that is aware of a person’s surroundings, physiology and activities inside and outside of workout sessions,” said Omri Yoffe, CEO of LifeBeam, in a statement. “Our vision is to build the best AI companion for body and mind. The natural first step was delivering an amazing voice-centric running experience, but we are already exploring opportunities to bring Vi to other devices and health and wellness settings.”
To create the experience of a relationship with a life-like fitness companion, Vi has been designed with a human voice powered by hundreds of thousands of audio recordings. Vi doesn’t just repeat phrases, rather — like Alexa for fitness — it converses with users, even going so far as to ask if she’s pronouncing their name correctly.
Vi’s functionality is also triggered by voice commands. For example, “Vi how am I doing?” will prompt Vi to give an update of current stats, while, “Vi step to the beat” will trigger her cadence coaching capabilities.
New York-based LifeBeam has used its expertise developing in-ear biosensing technology for the aerospace industry to place Vi inside state-of-the-art earphones that provide her with a wealth of biometric and environmental data. Unlike other fitness devices you wear, these data points and AI make Vi “aware.” The advanced biosensing earphones fit snugly inside any ear shape and have an array of sensors, such as heart rate, motion, posture, speech enhancement, elevation, touch, and more.
Vi even knows her user’s location and weather conditions. She tracks a user’s cadence, heart rate, calories, speed, steps, and distance, but goes beyond just monitoring stats. In fact, Vi pulls data from a wealth of sources to provide personalized coaching and feedback based on progress and goals. She connects with multiple third-party apps, such as Google Fit, Apple HealthKit, and Strava, to understand a user’s behavior and health levels outside of her training sessions and then combines this information with real-time environmental and physiological data to change her training insights on the fly.
Vi also integrates with Spotify and may suggest running playlists based on her user’s tastes.
From increasing stamina to encouraging weight loss, Vi helps people burn more calories, improve their runs, manage exhaustion, and avoid injuries to achieve their fitness goals. Vi’s adaptive capabilities support a wide range of users, from beginners to marathon runners. And Vi uses audio cues to improve running cadence, keeping users within the right effort zone and adjusting their pace to help them meet time, distance or fitness targets.
Vi has a lightweight and comfortable design that is sweat- and water-resistant, and packs good battery life for all day use. This is made possible by Vi’s unique form factor, which hangs around the user’s neck with magnetic tips at the base that allow the earbuds to be secured when not in use.
A set of in-ear fins and interchangeable ear gel sizes stabilize the earbuds and hold them in place, even during vigorous workout activity. Vi’s high fidelity sound is powered by Harman Kardon speakers, so that music sounds crisp, clear and precise, and so Vi can always be clearly heard. With Vi, users can make and receive calls at any time and can listen to their favorite music.
Setting Vi up is simple and can be done in seconds through voice-activated onboarding. Using the Vi companion app, Vi’s earphones connect with iOS and Android devices through Bluetooth & BLE connectivity. Vi uses smartphone GPS during workouts to accurately map routes, and the Vi companion app displays visual progress during and after workouts, in addition to providing the user with an interface to set goals, review progress, and further customize their program.
Vi is available now for $250 on the company’s website. It will be available on Amazon and Best Buy at the end of April and will be on retailer shelves this summer.
LifeBeam was founded in 2011 and raised $16 million last year from Square Peg Capital. To date, LifeBeam has raised $18.7 million, and the company has 50 employees.