A new bracelet product called Valkyrie EIR aims to create resistance to virtual reality fitness through electrical muscle stimulation. Worn over the biceps and triceps muscles on each arm, the bracelets emit electrical signals equivalent to up to four kilograms (about nine pounds) to let users feel the physical burn as they complete virtual workouts.
London-based Valkyrie Industries announced today that it has started taking pre-orders for the Valkyrie EIR, which costs $125 for the two-band set and will ship in Summer 2023. The wristbands connect to Valkyrie’s new EIR training app, available in Meta’s App Lab. Users wearing Meta’s Quest or Quest 2 headsets immerse themselves in virtual worlds to take part in instructor-led workout classes where their avatar can interact with virtual exercise machines such as cable machines, elastic bands, free weights, or a punching bag. The digital objects are weightless, but gain noticeable resistance through the completion of movements while wearing Valkyrie’s muscle stimulating bracelets
“We have several personal trainers in the experience to show you how to do the exercises, and we have some gamification to show you how many points or levels you need to achieve,” says Ivan Isakov, co-founder and CTO of Valkyrie industries. “Our electrical muscle stimulation devices [armbands] are wirelessly connected to the headset.”
A user can control the settings of their wristbands to adjust the electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) intensity, frequency, and pulse width. Valkyrie’s products are currently only accessible with Meta’s headsets, but the company plans to add compatibility with other devices, including TikTok’s parent company ByteDance’s Pico headset. Meta recently announced plans to sell its first virtual reality fitness accessory bundle, as well as its new Quest Pro headset, which costs $1,500.
“The new device of the meta method is thinner. The Quest 2 is pretty big up front, but that [Quest Pro] has a specific type of lens that is much smaller and more ergonomic. We’re really looking forward to it,” says Isakov. “[Quest Pro] also has some passthrough filters in augmented reality which are amazing as well. If we can use our device with augmented reality glasses, that’s great too. You don’t have to go to different worlds somewhere, you can also interact with these heavy virtual objects right here in your room.”
Leading apps in the virtual reality fitness space include FitXR and Supernatural, which Meta agreed to purchase last year, but that transaction is currently being challenged by the FTC, which alleges that “Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are trying [an] illegal acquisition to expand virtual reality empire.” Currently, Meta’s Quest headsets account for about 90% of sales in the US virtual reality hardware market. Isakov hopes Valkyrie’s EMS wristbands can be customized by other VR fitness app developers.
“We are releasing our SDK [software development kit] along with the hardware so any other developer can use it for their applications, and we’ve started discussions with some VR fitness developers,” says Isakov. “FitXR, Supernatural, they already have some nice workouts and if they incorporate muscle stimulation into their training it will be great for them and amazing exposure for us.”