While some people have no issue sticking to their own routine at the gym, others (myself included) find it tempting to slack off when there’s nobody there cheering them on to do one more rep, set, mile, or pose. When you’re away and outside of your normal routine, it’s even more difficult to factor in training time, but a tech company called LifeBEAM may have invented the perfect solution.
Vi is the world’s first AI personal trainer—more specifically a running coach that gives you customized guidance wherever you are. Unlike other wearables, which aim to motivate via metrics alone, Vi learns all about your goals as well as your physical habits, and provides targeted advice accordingly. With her help, I was hoping to get back into running on a regular basis. Here’s what I learned from the experience…
Vi has some very impressive tech, including aerospace-grade biosensors built into the earbuds that track your heart rate, speed, time, elevation, location and cadence. She can tell, for instance, that my stride is too long to be energetically efficient. Faster, shorter steps require less power and will allow me to run for longer, so she plays a repetitive beat and encourages me to match it with each footfall.
Vi knows the terrain and the temperature, which makes her a useful companion when you’re running abroad. If it’s an especially hot and humid climate, for example, she’ll carefully monitor your heart rate, making sure you don’t overdo it. If you’ve been running on concrete mile after mile she’ll gently remind you to find a more knee-friendly surface when possible.
At $199, Vi is a whole lot cheaper than hiring a human trainer. She’s also more portable, which is ideal if you’re somebody who likes to explore a place on foot.
Vi is the epitome of chipper, exhibiting enthusiasm that can be a little unpalatable early in the morning. On the flip side, her encouragement literally helped me go the extra mile. Even though logically I know she’s a machine, having her upbeat voice in my ear provided a degree of accountability that kept me striving.
Occasionally, Vi’s voice recognition failed, or my Spotify playlist dropped, or the whole thing conked out. It’s annoying to have to stop and restart the app and the session from scratch, and a reminder that, just like humans, AI has limitations too.