LifeBeam Vi Review
LifeBeam Vi is a set of smart fitness-tracking headphones that promise to give you a personal trainer within your ears. Here’s our review of the Kickstarter-funded LifeBeam Vi.
What Is LifeBeam Vi?
LifeBeam Vi claims to be the world’s “first true AI fitness trainer”. It’s a set of headphones that deliver customized exercise advice directly into your ears. Some are calling it “science fiction made real” while others are calling it one of the most genuinely useful wearables to date.
The headphones are made by an Israel-based company named LifeBeam. That company recently funded its project via Kickstarter.
You may not have heard of LifeBEAM, but they have previously made bio-sensing technology to some organizations you may be familiar with, including NASA, the US Air Force, Samsung, and Under Armour. So yeah, they have the credentials.
How Does Vi Work?
Vi works using a proprietary technology called Awareable. That technology promises to measure more information from your surroundings in order to provide more valuable feedback.
Like most fitness tracker-style devices, LifeBeam Vi tracks things like heart rate and steps.
But it also takes it a step further and measures biometrics like your temperature, elevation, heart rate variability, motion, and other data using environment sensors, an accelerometer, and a six-axis gyrometer. These sensors are described as “aerospace-grade”.
As you may or may not know, you can get a lot of biometric data from the ear. LifeBeam actually believes the ear is more accurate than the wrist:
“The ability to extract accurate data can be found from the ear. It's stable, much closer to the head and heart, and contains just as much information, if not more. It's simply a much more perfect place to measure”, explains Omri Yoffe, LifeBeam CEO and co-founder in an interview with Wareable.com.
To get a more complete picture of you, Vi will also connect to other health platforms and apps, including Apple HealthKit, Google Fit, Fitbit, Strava, or whatever other device you use to keep track of your health. If you don’t have a current platform, you can also just tell Vi more about you without ever connecting to other apps.
What about sound? Well, LifeBeam has partnered with Harmon Kardon for high-quality sound – so it doesn’t seem to be going cheap an audio quality.
Some are calling the combination of headphones with smart technology “hearables” as a new twist on “wearables”. Other competitors for Vi in that category include Bragi Dash and the Samsung Gear IconX.
How Does the AI Help You Train Better?
Vi’s AI starts off by tracking your movement and starting to learn more about you. When you first turn on your Vi headphones, Vi will tell you “Let’s get to know each other so I can calibrate myself.”
Then, after two or three training sessions, Vi starts to give detailed, customized insights on your exercise and training sessions. Vi will say things that help you get to your goal, motivate you, and push you beyond your goals.
Vi will start giving you fitness plans that align with your goals. But instead of robotically forcing you to those goals and ignoring you if you don’t complete them, Vi will take a more customized approach. She’ll be understanding when you miss your daily 5K run, for example, and will adapt your training routine to that miss.
All of this information is delivered through a female voice. LifeBeam actually tested 100 voice actresses before settling on one with an “amazing voice”. They aimed to find a voice that was compelling, warm, and welcoming. Some people have compared it to the AI from the movie Her.
Here’s an example of how Vi can work: if Vi knows your goal is to burn fat, then she’ll tell you to pace up and down with your exercise to get you within the optimal heart rate zone for fat burning.
Then, she’ll take into account things like environmental sensors, temperature, location, elevation, and heart rate. She can also notice if you’re fatigued from training, in which case she might ask if you want to slow down a bit.
You can also setup Vi to communicate via text message. In one promotional image posted by LifeBeam, Vi was seen messaging someone:
“Hey Jess! Looks like it’s going to rain today :(. You down to train indoors instead?”
There’s even an emoji in the message! Other texts say things like “Tomorrow, we train for your 5K. You ready for it?”
Lifebeam Vi Features
Here are some of the features you get with Vi earphones:
-Track your Daily Physical Activity: Vi senses your heart rate and heart rate variability when the earphones are in your ear. When they’re not, Vi still senses your motion and environment.
-Answer Calls Easily: Place the earbuds into your ears to answer calls.
-Listen to Music: High-quality audio is provided by Harman Kardon.
-Long Battery Life: Vi promises to offer all-day battery life.
-Inputs and Sensors: Training History, Location, Weather, Elevation, Health Kit & Google Fit, Goals, User Anatomy, Speed, Cadence, Heartrate Variability, and Heartrate.
-Microphone: Optimal mic placement that places the mic right beneath your mouth. The microphone also has wind and noise filtering and “significant speech processing logic” so everything you say gets transmitted.
-Mobile App: Mobile apps are available for both iOS and Android.
How To Buy LifeBeam Vi
LifeBeam Vi is currently available on Kickstarter, where it has an estimated shipping date of December 2016. Here’s how pricing works out:
- Early Bird: $179 for one pair of Vi earphones and one charging case (sold out)
- Get Vi: $199 for one pair of Vi earphones and one charging case
- Gi 2x Vis: $359 for two pairs of Vi earphones and two charging cases
- The Team Leader: $495 for six pairs of Vi earphones and six charging cases
- Squad Goals: $1,599 for ten pairs of Vi earphones and ten charging cases
There’s also a $5,000 funding option where you get 4 pairs of Vi earphones and 4 charging cases along with a trip for four to New York City, where you get to meet with the LifeBeam team for a day. The package includes 4 roundtrip domestic flights and a one night stay in a hotel.
The Kickstarter will finish on July 19, 2016. At the time of writing, it had raised $956,000 of its $100,000 goal with over 4,183 backers, so it’s officially funded.
If you miss the Kickstarter project deadline, then you should be able to find Vi on the LifeBeam online store here: http://life-beam.com/shop/. The earphones plan to retail for $249.