Can an AI running coach really get you off the couch? Somehow, yes

We all know the importance of regular exercise, but that doesn’t make incorporating the chore into our weekly routine any easier. Aside from fatigue, it’s often difficult to stay motivated during a workout. Thankfully, the LifeBeam Vi is an AI running coach that’s designed to encourage individuals as they work toward their fitness goals.

Vi is an AI whose sole job is to make you a more proficient runner. It won’t open the Notes app or help you with productivity at work. It is a specialized personalized trainer — that’s it. On top of the AI component, Vi is a voice-activated Bluetooth headset, one complete with Harman Kardon speakers.

The AI features a built-in barometer to gauge elevation, along with a heart rate sensor, gyroscope, and an accelerometer, which will track your steps and a variety of other fitness metrics. Vi can also respond to basic questions you pose during your run. You can ask her about your heart rate in real time, whether you’re currently exercising within your optimal range, and a host of other questions. Simply say “step to the beat” and Vi will play a consistent beat, allowing you to develop a steady cadence for an even pace.

Prior to your workout, Vi will access weather data to determine whether you should run inside or outside on a particular day. The virtual assistant also learns from your previous workouts and health data, allowing her to adjust your regimen and coach you along the way. You can even set personal targets for weight loss, distance, and other metrics within the device’s accompanying mobile app. Then, afterward, you can establish one of these goal as your primary goal, and the AI will make this the focus of your workout. We’ve also compiled a list of our best fitness apps for the iPhone and the best fitness apps for Android, if you’re looking for something to use in tandem with the basic Vi features.

Moreover, there are plenty of other useful functions, each of which allows for a more personalized experience. After a few workouts, for instance, Vi will “sense” when you would normally be slowing down. The AI will then offer words of encouragement around that time, letting you know when you are nearing a new personal best. You can also easily link Vi to your Spotify account and play music stored on your phone, so you can sweat to your preferred playlist. The paired app displays plenty of useful metrics, too, such as pace, heart rate, speed, and elevation. This visual data makes it easy to see your progress over time.

Vi is a solid personal trainer, the speakers sound great, and you get both for about the same price as a decent Bluetooth headset. The AI can’t make you get off the couch and go for a run, but it certainly will push you toward your goals, if you allow it to. And if you’re looking for a quality alternative, be sure to check out our picks for the best headphones for runners.

David Cogen, a regular contributor here at Digital Trends, runs, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him over at Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.


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