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Why Does VR Need A Specialized Fitness Tracker?

General fitness trackers have a hard time predicting calorie burn for unknown exercises. In order to be able to accurately predict this for common exercises, researchers have taken thousands of measures using Indirect Calorimetry, which measures the rate of oxygen consumption to estimate accurate calorie burn. This allows the publication of an exercise’s MET (metabolic equivalent) score for use in the exercise apps you already have.

Since VR and AR are new, and each game uses a different set of muscles depending on the types of gameplay, getting accurate exercise information from traditional fitness trackers is difficult.

We Use VR-Specific Metabolic Data

In 2016, the VR Institute of Health and Exercise created the VR Health Rating system, an independent system for rating VR and AR content using research-grade metabolic equipment. For three years, the VR Health Institute has been collaborating with the Kinesiology department at San Francisco State University to collect metabolic data on VR experiences using COSMED and PARVO metabolic carts.

These metabolic carts are the academic standard for metabolic research, and typically range from $75,000 to $150,000 each. Not only have we collected hundreds of hours of VR-specific metabolic and calorie cost data on dozens of subjects, much of this data has already been published in peer reviewed scientific journals, or is pending publication.

So What Does the App Actually Use:

The VR Health Exercise Tracker tries to incorporate two sets of VR-specific data to create a better fitness tracker for VR.

  • Calorie Calculations Per Game Based on Metabolic Data: Each game in the app has been rated by the VR Health Institute. This allows us to estimate your personalized calorie burn based on the game’s MET score and your biometric data. We hope this will help you discover new games that may be good exercise as we rate them.
  • Heart-Rate-to-Calorie Formulas Specific to VR and AR Movements: In addition to rating each game, the VR Health Institute has hundreds of hours of heart rate and calorie cost data during gameplay from the metabolic carts. With this, we are creating the calorie formulas needed to more accurately predict calorie burn based on heart rate. Without this data making it equally accessible as other forms of exercise, we feel that it will be difficult for VR and AR exercise to be taken seriously by the health community.
How Can You Help?:

We’re glad you asked. This project is both an emerging area of academic research and a passion project for most of the team members. Various graduate students, researchers, companies, and industry experts have contributed time, money, or both during its creation. Here are a few ways you can help us, if you are interested: