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Avatar-led fitness instructor raises heart rates while you raise cash for charity

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The recently launched ALFI (Avatar Led Fitness Instructor) app, gives home gym-goers the opportunity to carry out acts of kindness while they work out.

ALFI, which uses augmented reality (AR) technology to create personalised, on-demand fitness classes, rewards users with tokens which can be redeemed as free classes, gifts to friends and donations to charity.

Developed by the founders of London-based contemporary fitness boutique, The Refinery E9, The Refine with ALFI and Refine with ALFI AR app have been created with motion capture, 3D and augmented-reality technology which overlays digital content in the form of a fitness instructor onto the physical world — as if they are actually in the room with you.As appetite for ARCore apps such as Pokemon Go and Snapchat increases, with an estimated 2.5billion users by 2023, AR is expected to take the lead in the fitness sector, as homes become the new gyms.

The fitness apps space has become saturated since COVID-19, with the market poised to grow by 1.68 billion USD over the next four years, according to Businesswire. But consumer demand for special experiences has driven a need for differentiation.

The ALFI platform has been in development since 2018 and consists of two key phone applications, IoS and Android, which have a 3D engine embedded to give the user the experience of a top-quality video game.

A complex algorithm uses 3D motion clips to create a unique fitness class of either HIIT or yoga – complete with synchronised music and voice overs – with the user given a 360 degree view of the instructor.

The app encourages consumers to keep active, allowing them to gift credits to friends, customise their avatar, redeem free classes or donate mental health charity Mind, via the ALFI tokens earned at each class they take.

The Refinery E9 founders are supporting Mind, in keeping with their message of ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’.

Zoe Bertali, co-founder of ALFI says: “We wanted to create something fun, accessible and engaging, so many fitness apps have the same format, which can make the choice overwhelming and sometimes discouraging. It’s difficult to break through the noise, or to choose which instructor serves you best. With ALFI it’s what’s inside that counts, strong mind, strong body.”

She continued: “We have created a visually striking, avatar-led, algorithmic fitness app and can create bespoke user led classes in seconds, compared to scrolling through hundreds of videos.

“The heart of the app is human and all regimes are created using motion capture – so the avatar moves like a human, but is run by the Unity gaming engine. The exciting thing about our app is that it is AR ready, which means that very soon, life size ALFI will be leading you through classes in your home not just on your screen.”

Zoe said they chose AR technology, as opposed to VR or AI to give the user the safest, most engaging experience to help them stick to their goals.

“VR is very immersive, which although has fantastic benefits, we thought it may be dangerous to have a functioning fitness app with the user potentially unaware of their surroundings. With AR, the user can still maintain full awareness of what is around them, while ‘working out’ with their personalised PT,” she said.

“AR is very visually orientated so will give the user a full 360-degree view of the instructor doing the discipline which we believe will help with better form and accuracy. There is more possibility for personalisation which makes for more engagement and therefore hopefully will help users stick to their fitness goals.”

Zoe added: “A big goal is to eventually make ALFI into lots of different shapes and sizes and have ALFI working out in lots of different locations.”

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