Vi for Vendetta

Vi for Vendetta

The future is here, in your ear, and she’s telling you to run.

A company called LifeBEAM labs (yep) has developed a product called Vi, which is an interactive AI personal trainer. No, this isn’t the beginning of a Black Mirror episode where anyone with a BMI over 25 is forcibly marched thin. This is a real thing, and it’s pretty nifty.

Vi is a voice activated artificial intelligent personal trainer. AIPT. for short…? It’s marketed as ‘adapting to an individual’s behaviour, environment and physiology to deliver tailored, real-time coaching ideal for entry to intermediate runners.’ So essentially, she learns, and looks stylish (in a futuristic way, not an ‘oh-God-what-is-that-around-your-face’ sort of way, like Google Glass)

“Vi is not like anything people will have heard or seen before. She is a listening, talking trainer that is aware of a person’s surroundings, physiology and activities inside and outside of workout sessions,” said Omri Yoffe, CEO of LifeBEAM Labs.

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‘She is listening?’ Eeek. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Vi and take it/her for a spin.

My first impressions of the packaging really cemented my feeling of being in an episode of Black Mirror. There’s only a simple “Hey” tab on the outside of the package, which you pull to open it. There’s no other instructions. Until you hear a faint voice, which is coming from Vi herself, telling you to “put her on to get started”.

Frak. I’ve seen too much Battlestar Galactica to know that when I put this on I will probably become a Cylon. Or, worse, find out everyone else is a Cylon. But what happens next is the sweet calming American voice that is Vi.

She tells me to download her app to my phone. I comply. She tells me to go to the App Store and download her app. I comply. She then instructs me to how to connect her to the app in order to increase her intelligence. I comply. It’s at this point my sci-fi paranoia kicks in again, and I  wonder if this is a mind-controlling machine, but her voice is so warm and friendly – definitely mind control. What I actually find out is so much worse than a mind-control machine – she is a friendly personal trainer.  Vi is making friends with you, to gain your trust, she even cracks a friendly joke, so she can turn on you and then make you workout like a bitch.

I type my name in and I suddenly hear “Hello Chris”. Which is pretty freakin’ cool.

Vi can monitor your heart rate and how well you’ve performed during your workout to the point of adapting your workout according to your biometric readout. It is a remarkable piece of technology. You can select what your goal you wish to achieve from losing weight, maintaining your current fitness level to reducing stress so you can get something different from it with every use.

However, she does love to chat. During just a run Vi suggested we turned it into a Mindfulness Session, and to reply verbally with a Yes or No. I responded “No”, but I realised I hadn’t set up the mic settings, so I was just running down the street shouting “No, no, no, no” and getting strange looks from passers-by. After I resort to pressing a button to decline, Vi goes quiet on me for two minutes.

It’s a long two minutes.

Then she speaks up, to simply tell me to pick up the pace. Ouch.

For anyone who is looking to exercise for the first time, or who can’t find the right PT then Vi could be your girl. She’s not exactly a cheap date though, retailing around £200, but you are in control of your workout while being gently guided by Vi.

Vi is available now on Amazon and in Selfridges.

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