A new armband product called Valkyrie EIR is aiming to bring resistance to virtual reality fitness through electrical muscle stimulation. Worn over the biceps and triceps muscle on each arm, the armbands send electric signals equivalent to up to four kilograms (roughly nine pounds) for users to feel the physical burn as they complete virtual workouts.
London-based Valkyrie Industries announced today that it has begun accepting preorders for Valkyrie EIR, which cost $125 for the two-armband set and will start shipping in summer 2023. The armbands connect with Valkyrie’s new EIR Training app available on Meta’s App Lab. Users wearing Meta’s Quest or Quest 2 headset are immersed in virtual worlds to partake in trainer-led workout classes in which their avatar can engage with virtual exercise equipment like cable machines, elastic bands, dumbbells, or a punching bag. The digital items are weightless but gain perceived resistance through completing the movements while wearing Valkyrie’s muscle-stimulating 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 scores or levels to reach,” says Ivan Isakov, co-founder and CTO of Valkyrie Industries. “Our electrical muscle stimulation devices [armbands] are connected wirelessly to the headset.”
A user can control the settings of their armbands to adjust intensity, frequency and pulse-width of the electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). Valkyrie’s products are currently only accessible with Meta’s 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 plans to sell its first virtual reality fitness accessory bundle as well as its new Quest Pro headset that costs $1,500.
“The new Meta method device is thinner. The Quest 2 is pretty big 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 that,” Isakov says. “[Quest Pro] also has some Passthrough filters in augmented reality that’s amazing as well. If we’re able to use our device with augmented reality glasses, that’s great as well. You don’t need to go somewhere in different worlds, you can interact with those heavy virtual objects here in your room as well.”
Existing leading apps in the virtual reality fitness space include FitXR and Supernatural, which Meta agreed to buy last year but that transaction is currently being challenged by the FTC which claims that “Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are attempting [an] illegal acquisition to expand virtual reality empire.” Currently, Meta’s Quest headsets represent about 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’re releasing our SDK [software development kit] together with the hardware, so any other developer can use it for their applications and, we’ve started conversations with some VR fitness developers,” Isakov says. “FitXR, Supernatural, they already have some nice workouts and if they get muscle stimulation into their workouts it will be great for them and amazing exposure for us.”