A decade back, we had the Sony Wii at our home in Mumbai. My friends and I would have the most intense and fun filled tennis matches on that console. Oftentimes, it would equate to a moderate workout that helped us get some much-needed exercise. A revolutionary product that mirrored the human hand movement using the motion sensing capabilities of the Wii remote, it soon became a bestseller.
Studies showed that playing these games had a positive impact on health and weight without ever feeling like a workout. The primary reason for Wii’s success was that it helped humans engage in a fairly immersive gaming experience. With the advancements in augmented and virtual reality, 3D gaming engines and GPUs, a combination of multiple apps and hardware devices now deliver a far superior gaming experience than was previously possible.
But, this experience is yet to filter down to the fitness sector even though digital fitness apps have become an integral part of the fitness routine of millions over the past decade. While Covid has further accelerated this phenomenon with the number of fitness app users increasing globally by 50% in H1 2020 to over 900M downloads, the retention and engagement rates are often low. This can be attributed to any of the following reasons : boring and static user experience; lack of personalization and feedback; absence of social/community element.
So, the question we asked ourselves was – what are some macro trends in the fitness space and what will the next generation of fitness apps look like?
The earliest versions of digital fitness tools tried to mirror the gym experience by helping one perform simple exercises at home using a combination of live and recorded content without any intelligence.
Soon, they were replaced by a slew of software powered workouts albeit delivered via expensive hardware devices that have created communities around their integrated hardware + software stacks while providing analytics score for increased motivation and engagement. Think Mirror which employs a large screen with inbuilt camera and microphone to implement 1:1 training sessions with instructors combined with real time feedback and analytics. While these Digital Fitness 2.0 tools have done well, the prohibitive cost and requirement of the hardware rule these solutions out for most. In addition, they are missing the immersive experience promised initially by Wii but yet to be fully delivered to consumers.
Getting the same experience on a smartphone today is difficult as estimating and tracking the human pose with low latency is a technically complex problem. Not many companies in the world have been able to solve it, and Insane AI with their proprietary motion tracking technology enables one to have this experience even on an entry level smartphone.
Insane AI is building a revolutionary Digital Fitness 3.0 product using computer vision, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence to create social immersive workout games on the smartphone. Computer vision tracks the body motion, augmented reality creates the best workout experiences, and artificial intelligence understands the impact of exercise (count reps, analyze poses and score movements) on the body and personalizes the workouts to help maximize the performance.
The core behind their product is the computer vision technology that tracks and estimates over 30+ body points on the smartphone itself in a privacy compliant manner (no personal data shared to the cloud) to support 70+ body weight exercises. Accomplishing this in real time using low compute resources in difficult external environments is a major advancement that truly differentiates them.
Insane AI is building at the intersection of three large macro trends – the gamification of various sectors has shown to make a positive impact such as in corporate learning (increases employee productivity by 50% and engagement by 60%) and in education (35% increase in student performance); the creation of metaverse worlds and increased spending in those worlds; and the expectation of consumers to receive a personalized experience (85% of the time people like the personalized workout AI creates).
Mission driven to employ technology and AI to optimize physical fitness, Insane AI uses their proprietary motion tracking technology that only uses the smartphone camera to convert the body into a game controller, and workouts into a multiplayer game. Imagine playing a game of Super Mario where you get to control Mario’s actions through a myriad of actions involving squats, lunges, jumping jacks etc!!
The founders’ backgrounds and skill sets easily translate to a strong Founder-Market fit -> they have known each other for a decade and between them, have scaled health diagnostics apps, worked in autonomous driving teams with Bosch and Mercedes Benz and depth sensing camera teams in Japan. We met Anurag, Jayesh and Sourabh a few months back and were blown away by their vision of building a world class global consumer tech product based out of India. As experienced gamers and experts in deeptech, health and fitness domains, they bring a clarity of thought and strong conviction on creating this fitness metaverse universe without being deterred by the lack of global comparables. Further, the customer love clinched the deal for us as we were blown away by the love shown to their product by their beta users.
At pi, we like companies that fundamentally reimagine sectors on the back of disruptive technology and love the immersive, engaging, and sophisticated fitness solution developed by Insane AI. This trend of fitness and gaming worlds merging in the metaverse universe is just getting started and we are thrilled to have a seat on the table. With a successful beta launch in India, Insane AI is planning a global launch before the end of 2021. The founders sum it up best when they boldly proclaim that they will create a platform on top of which fitness content creators and game developers can serve lifelike experiences to consumers thus altering fitness workouts forever. We are impressed by the vision and execution shown by the team at Insane AI and look forward to partnering with them to make gamified fitness central to people’s lives!