By: Ivan Avramovic RIG Inc Intern Researcher
The COVID 19 global pandemic has brought significant changes to how businesses worldwide operate both from a day-to-day standpoint and long-term growth and operations. One specific industry which has seen considerable growth due to the pandemic has been the at-home fitness industry. According to a report released by Allied Market Research, the at-home fitness equipment market size is expected to reach $11.46 million by 2027 with a CAGR of 7.8% between 2021 and 2027. What is driving this growth is the increase in artificial intelligence-based (AI) systems used within different equipment for at-home use. Technology that was once only available to professional sports teams is now available to anyone with a smart phone. Individuals can now utilize various apps, wearable devices, and at-home fitness equipment with built-in technology for the consumer’s physical wellbeing. There are two main categories of AI powered fitness equipment that will be discussed in this blog: mobile applications and smart at-home fitness equipment.
Mobile applications like Strava, Couch to 5K, MyFitnessPal, and others utilize different technologies to increase the wellness of their users. Although the apps are the less-expensive option when compared to the at-home fitness equipment, there are significant advantages to using these applications for beginners. Typically, these applications can be paired with different wearable devices for a lower price than attending a gym or buying specific at-home equipment. For example, Strava uses machine learning (ML) and AI to offer peak performance metrics and combine that with smartwatches that measure heartrate; Strava can utilize analytics to inform the user how different heart rate and effort trends can impact the athlete. Since the start of the pandemic, Strava has reported that it currently has over 70 million users, with two million users per month having joined since the beginning of 2020. While these mobile applications have become more popular since the start of the global pandemic, there is even more growth within the at-home fitness equipment market and greater utilization of AI.
Companies like Peloton and Zwift have changed what the fitness environment looks like for individuals. Peloton uses stationary bikes and treadmills along with software that enables its users to attend virtual classes in real-time and also access pre-recorded classes. Peloton has recently acquired Aiqudo and Atlas Wearbles which are set to expand what Peloton is currently doing from a software and hardware standpoint, with new products currently being launched such as a rowing machine and a strength training device. Utilizing Peloton’s technology and hardware has enabled individuals’ greater access to fitness and a more accessible physical wellbeing path.
Zwift, on the other hand, utilizes primarily software to provide its users a platform for at-home running and/or cycling. In this virtual world, you are exercising with people worldwide within this app environment through the help of sensors that can be hooked up to treadmills and bicycles. There is a social aspect to this specific application as well, where you can ride (virtually) with friends and different groups within the app, making the entire environment more realistic. Zwift uses a subscription-based model and utilizes different AI tools to create workouts for individuals as well as measure their progress within the platform.
Lastly, innovative pieces of equipment go a step above Peloton and Zwift, and utilize various sensors and cameras, combined with AI to display various exercises. Products such as Mirror and Tonal utilize an AI-powered mirror display which uses cameras to display exercises that you can copy, and the internal sensors can look at an individual’s form and performance. This immersive experience is powered by AI and gives users a completely different experience for at-home fitness. There will be an increase of equipment like Mirror and Tonal in the future, with Liteboxer raising $20 million, as announced on June 8. The concept is essentially a reinvented punching bag, but the company states that with the technology built in, it would be as if the user has an interactive sparring partner.
The shift towards greater physical wellness has boosted throughout the years with the rise of global obesity. This factor, mixed with the increase of technology in different sectors means that there is an opportunity for companies to offer solutions for individuals. A huge factor in the rise of AI powered fitness technology came with the start of the COVID pandemic, when traditional fitness facilities were closed. What will be interesting within the next couple of years is how the at-home fitness landscape will change with facilities like gyms slowly opening to full capacity worldwide.
Within this space, there are opportunities for technology like RIG’s Dynamic Trust model. An example of how Dynamic Trust can be used is to assist platforms like Zwift with making sure that the quality of the content being consumed is in the highest quality. Further, RIG’s role in this industries can be seen with companies like Mirror and Tonal, making sure that the data users are sharing via the cameras and sensors will stay private.