Staying Hydrated in VR Workouts is Problematic

A new report was published in The Information about the new Apple headset mentions the following:

People familiar with Apple’s content strategy for the headset say Apple executives are emphasizing health and wellness including proposals for AR apps that assist with meditation and exercise.

Apple Devising Software to Help Anyone Build AR Apps, to Drive Headset Sales by Wayne Ma

This reporting fits with my thinking that a fitness application like Supernatural would be a beachhead for the new Apple headset.

But the new report contains another key dimension that underscores a problem with VR workout apps and the limitations of what Meta/Facebook is working with.

Apple is focused on AR and doesn’t have much interest in VR, which senior executives find too isolating, say the people familiar with Apple’s efforts. That’s different from Meta’s approach, which has pushed VR games as a big feature of its consumer headsets.

The trick here is to not think of isolation as being a purely social problem. A go-to response to people bearish on headsets of any kind is the presumption that they will lock you away from other people.

For working out, VR is too isolating because you can’t stop to take a drink of water. Supernatural has some rather intense workouts and you really must stop to hydrate to get through one of any substantial length.

Except this means you must remove the headset, which breaks the experience completely, possibly throwing your sweatband into disarray.

The other option, which I’ve taken to is memorizing where in the room the cup is and cautiously extending your arms to break your guardian boundary and grab your water while replacing it carefully, sliding it on the table.

This is still a jarring and not-relaxing way to relax during a break–but at least you don’t have to readjust the headset.

Apple’s intent to provide exercise in AR overcomes this simple yet crucial isolation that VR imposes: You can step over to a glass of water and its not problem. It has been there the whole time.

I suspect the second half of the above quote about Meta’s approach is also a bit of a read-between-the-lines thing. It isn’t that Meta’s looked at AR and VR and found VR gaming is superior.

Meta looked at their market and the way Android was able to effectively compete with Apple. They will be forced to go low-cost and at least today that is a non-starter for any decent AR experience.

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