16 January 2014 | MOF Team
One company who has let its imagination run wild - with positive results - is Race Yourself, the San Francisco based augmented reality games developer behind the game that could revolutionise the way we exercise.
Starting life as GlassFit Exercise Games, Race Yourself is a team of 8 (with 3 advisors) who have blended virtual reality - through the creation of an in-game avatar - with reality, to create an interactive, motivational sports experience based around users competing against themselves and their own fitness levels. To race against pace, calories burned and workout duration previously set by themselves during prior workouts, users are shown a visual representation of their former exercise routine and progress within their Google Glass window, allowing the user to chase or overtake their avatar in order to maximise their workout potential.
We caught up with CEO and Co-founder Alexander Foster, to find out more about his app:
Which came first - Race Yourself or Google Glass?
"Google Glass. I was looking for an idea for it, and came up with Race Yourself whilst running with a friend. She was a bit faster than me, so I was pushing myself harder to keep up, and it gave me the idea of being able to compete against someone each time you run to stay motivated, even if you run alone. I’ve worked on 3 other start-ups before, but Race Yourself is my best and favourite idea. The others were cool, but this has the potential to really go places."
How and why did you first get your hands on a Google Glass?
"We started putting the team together and building Race Yourself around 5 months before we actually got hold of Glass, by which point our American team was growing and we were able to use US invites to buy 3 devices. Race Yourself runs on Android, so we could build and test our ideas, then send it on to our friends before the Glasses arrived."
Race Yourself has offices in San Francisco and London - explain that?
"Most of the team is in London, but the headquarters are in San Francisco, which made sense from a business point of view. We all go back and forth, with two people in the San Francisco office and six in London. Its basically a split between the engineering and business side."
Racing against top sportsmen and women is a huge motivation for Race Yourself wearers - are celebrity endorsements something you’re looking into?
"We’ll have to see, in terms of intellectual property we can’t just do that without permission, it has to be an avatar running at the pace of a sportsperson, not an obvious likeness. We do have a couple of celebrity endorsements lined up, and we’re hoping that as we get more traction and more attention drawn towards us, people will want to get involved."
So I can’t race Usain Bolt just yet, but how customisable are the avatars? Will mine look like me?
"There’s a standard avatar to race against in the first version, but we’re definitely working towards making them more customisable through skinning.
Theres been a discussion about possibly doing a third-person view, which is instead of having the camera behind your eyes, you can see the avatar of yourself in front of you, running, cycling, racing - a bit like in Grand Theft Auto. We think that might result in an all-round better experience."
Race Yourself is still very young - where do you see the app in 12 months time?
"I can’t see Glass being something people wear on their face the entire time, but we’re hoping Glass can become something you’ll leave next to your running shoes and take out with you when you go cycling, or you go running. Ill certainly be using it for GPS, just for navigating around the city in general, because not having to use your hands is gold dust."