A new armband product called Valkyrie EIR aims to bring resistance to virtual reality fitness through electrical muscle stimulation. Worn over the biceps and triceps muscles of each arm, the armbands send electrical signals equivalent to up to four kilograms (about nine pounds) to make users feel the physical burn when performing virtual workouts.
London-based Valkyrie Industries announced today that it has started accepting pre-orders for Valkyrie EIRwhich costs $125 for the set of two bracers and will begin shipping in summer 2023. The bracers connect with the new Valkyrie EIR Training App available on Meta’s App Lab. Users wearing the Meta’s Quest or Quest 2 headset are immersed in virtual worlds to participate in trainer-led workout classes that their avatar can engage in with virtual exercise equipment like cable machines, resistance bands, dumbbells or a punching bag. Digital items are weightless but gain perceived resistance by completing movements while wearing Valkyrie’s muscle stimulation armbands
“We have several personal trainers in the experience to show you how to perform the exercises, and we have some gamification to show you the scores or levels to achieve,” says Ivan Isakov, co-founder and CTO of Valkyrie Industries. “Our electrical muscle stimulation devices [armbands] are wirelessly connected to the headphones.
A user can control their armband settings to adjust the intensity, frequency, and pulse width of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). Valkyrie’s products are currently only accessible with Meta headsets, but the company plans to add compatibility with other devices, including the Pico headset owned by TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. Meta recently announced its intention to sell its first virtual reality set of fitness accessories as well as its new Quest Pro headset that retails for $1,500.
“The new Meta Method device is slimmer. The Quest 2 is quite large in front, but the [Quest Pro] has a certain type of lens that is much smaller, it’s more ergonomic. So we’re really looking forward to it,” says Isakov. “[Quest Pro] also has some Pass filters in augmented reality, it’s amazing too. If we can use our device with augmented reality glasses, that’s great too. You don’t need to go somewhere in different worlds, you can also interact with these heavy virtual objects here in your room.
Major existing applications in the virtual reality fitness space include Fit XR and Supernaturalwhich Meta agreed to buy last year, but this transaction is currently being disputed by the FTC which claims that “Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are trying [an] illegal acquisition to expand virtual reality empire. Currently, Meta’s Quest headsets account for approximately 90% of sales in the US virtual reality hardware market. Isakov hopes Valkyrie’s EMS armbands can be adapted by other VR fitness app developers.
“We release our SDK [software development kit] with the hardware, so any other developer can use it for their apps and we’ve started conversations with some VR fitness developers,” says Isakov. “FitXR, Supernatural, they already have some great workouts and if they get some muscle stimulation in their workouts it will be great for them and amazing exposure for us.”