Fitness apps could help VR reach a wider audience. Women in particular seem to be driving the fitness boom in mobile VR headsets.
The target audience for virtual reality seems to be changing. While it used to be mainly young men with an affinity for gaming, mobile VR headsets in particular are appealing to an increasingly diverse audience. One reason for this is VR fitness apps, which are increasingly being used by women, according to one report.
FitXR heralds change in VR clientele
A prime example of this shift is the VR fitness app FitXR. Originally released as the “simple” VR game BoxVR, developers transformed the VR boxing into a virtual gym and introduced a subscription service.
They also introduced virtual trainers and regularly added VR classes in dance, HIIT, and martial arts. Today, FitXR is even using artificial intelligence to further optimize virtual training.
As the company has evolved, so has its target audience. According to a report in the Washington Post, the typical FitXR player has shifted from an 18-year-old male to a woman over 35. FitXR CEO Sam Cole attributes this to a focus on fitness and a lot of word-of-mouth.
Women have been trying out their partners’ VR headsets, experimenting with fitness apps, and telling their friends about it. As a result, more people bought VR headsets like Meta Quest 2 as a fitness device rather than a gaming console, Cole theorizes.
Meta, Pico, Apple – Everybody wants VR fitness
Meta, ByteDance, and Apple have also long recognized that there is a target audience that uses VR headsets primarily for fitness purposes. Meta bought the VR fitness studio Within, which is behind the fitness app Supernatural, in 2021. But the acquisition dragged on for two years. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was concerned about Meta’s threatened monopoly position in VR fitness.
In February 2023, Meta finally won against the FTC and the acquisition was completed. The protracted legal battle shows how important the fitness market has become for the VR industry. ByteDance’s subsidiary Pico also promoted VR fitness apps and an integrated VR fitness tracker at the launch of the Pico 4.
The Apple Vision Pro mobile VR/AR headset announced at this year’s WWDC, however, does not include fitness apps. But that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t aware of the growing market. According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple is looking to integrate a full VR or AR fitness service into a successor model to the Apple Vision Pro with a new service called “Fitness+”.
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