See These Corporations Use Digital Actuality To Make Health Addictive

In 2017, there was more than $3 billion invested in the high-growth virtual reality (VR) market, which Digi-Capital says is spread over 28 VR and augmented reality categories.

The report goes on to itemize some of the most significant investment rounds that comprised that figure in 2016: Magic leap, raise $793.5 million, unity at $181 million Mindmaze at $100 million NextVR at $80 million360fly at $40 millionand Baobab Studios at $25 million.

The investment in VR by what Digi-Capital calls every “big boy” on the block (Alibaba, Warner Bros, Google, Morgan Stanley, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Samsung) right down to Silicon Valley heavyweights, dedicated VR investment firms and angel investors, is anchored around on the expectation that this market is on its way to mass-market appeal. And this means a broader reach outside of early adopters and the male-dominated gaming market to women and fitness.

According to VR Focus, women already own 41% of the mobile VR market using a smartphone to use VR. and 68% of women aged 18-35 use a premium smartphone as their primary VR headset. the EY VR Fitness study in 2016 showed that women are more interested in VR for fitness or health than entertainment.

“VR fitness will attract new target groups – especially young people- by allowing them to enjoy mindblowing experiences while competing with other users worldwide in multi-player like scenarios,” said Michael Schmidt, co-CEO and C0-Founder, ICAROS.

The German startup created a VR exercise system for gyms and home use in 2015. The fitness system lets users workout in a pilate-like position through a reality that makes them feel like they are flying or deep-ocean diving.

The Munich-based company was co-founded by Johannes Scholl and Michael Schmidt who are both the Co-CEOs. Since their inception, they’ve raised $750,000 but, according to Schmidt, they are already profitable and have delivered their VR Gym (both VR hardware and software) to 200 gyms and entertainment centers in 40 countries.

The ICAROS system uses a Samsung Gear VR headset.

Black Box VR, a startup from Boise, Idaho, has created a 30 minute VR workout with an HTC Vive headset.

According to Preston Lewis, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Black Box VR, the company created a dynamic resistance machine that pairs with VR it plans to market to gyms.

When the user completes a rep, it triggers an action in the gaming element the user sees through the Hive VR headset (ie, launching a fireball to defend your base). For example, when a user grabs a handle to do chest press movement, it will be the resistance that’s sspecific to the user’s strength level and fitness goals. Each full body workout is designed to make the user feel as if they’re playing a futuristic sport, and getting a workout.

Lewis notes that despite all the tips and tricks, special apps and trendy programs available today in the fitness world, the company believes there’s still one glaring problem that’s not being resolved.

“Fitness is boring to the majority of people. On the other side of the coin, we all know games can be unhealthily addicting. With games, you level up your character while leveling down your real-life health,” said Lewis. “Our mission is to change lives by creating addictive fitness experiences (applying gaming principles) that leverage the power of immersive technologies like VR.”

“In the Black Box VR workout, your body is the controller, and you can level up your life,” adds Lewis. “We hope this is fitness users will enjoy.”

As with all new technology and specifically with VR, there are limitations and safety considerations, but Lewis says they’re big believers in the ability of technology and emerging platforms to change people’s lives.

“Virtual reality, combined with our resistance training system, and the right game experience will push people to stick to their goals and will usher in a fitness revolution like never before,” said Lewis. “The dumbbell has remained largely unchanged for centuries; you’re essentially just lifting rocks and putting them down as you stare in a mirror, bored out of your mind.”

“We’re excited to use these innovative technologies and unique experiences to help people achieve the results they desire,” adds Lewis.

Black Box VR, which won a CES Innovation Awards at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2018, has $2.1 million in self-funding from Lewis and CEO, Ryan DeLuca.

Deluca was the founder of in 2012,, DeLuca and his brother, former company President Jeremy DeLuca, paid $8.1 million as part of a plea deal for misdemeanor charges of selling misbranded products according to documents filed by the Federal Drug Administration. In 2015, DeLuca stepped down from the company.

This post was updated to reflect 2017 data on the state of the VR/AR market from Digi-Capital over 2016 numbers from the same. The post was also amended to reflect that the BlackBox VR fitness platform is for use in a gyn, not the home.

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