Good news for lovers of gamified fitness, particularly those who hate gyms but love gaming: A new player on the scene, Quell, announced a $10 million Series A funding round from Chinese-owned Tencent to support the global launch of a new immersive fitness system that promises to torch calories all from the comfort of your home. While that may all sound like a familiar pitch these days, here is what the company is doing a little differently:
London-based Quell has been developing its new system since 2020, and with a fresh injection of cash, says it’ll be ready to launch its new lightweight wearable and software system globally by the end of the year. The concept carries on the early traditions of Wii Fit and Xbox Kinect, but modernized and personalized, combining immersive video games with motion and biometric tracking and haptic sensors to burn up to 600 calories an hour – that’s about the same as a very sweaty spin class.
To play, users strap on what’s called the Impact belt around their chest, along with wristbands with thumb loops attached to resistance belts to then simulate, say, fighting villains via their connected screen, all while earning rewards and taking on various fitness challenges. Embedded sensors track calories burned, heart rate, and speed, and the game adjusts in difficulty to maximize your output. The company has so far produced a fantasy combat-style game called Shardfall, requiring kicks, standing sprints, jumps, and lots of fist throwing, with more titles expected down the line.
Here’s a video to give you an idea:
The Impact wearable will be both PC and macOS compatible, and the company plans to use some of its funding in both developing both more games and multiplayer capabilities, and bumping its staff from 30 to 50 people.
VR isn’t so far part of the plan, but the company hasn’t ruled that out totally yet – those unwieldy headsets aren’t for everyone. You can preorder the system for $249 here, and Quell plans to ship later this year. So far, no subscription model is planned, but Quell is considering all options at this point. Of course, if the company is primarily focusing on boxing-style workouts, then there is no shortage of competition already out there, from Peloton to Meta Quest 2.
This Series A round follows a $5.6 million seed funding round completed in December 2020, backed by Twitch cofounders Emmett Shear and Kevin Lin, as well as startup accelerator Y Combinator and JamJar Investments.
Quell CEO and cofounder Cameron Brookhouse, an Oxford University engineer, says:
Through our pioneering technology, we aim to help millions of people worldwide unlock the health and wellness benefits of exercising while immersing them in worlds where the hero gets stronger as they do. We’re thrilled with the support we’ve received from such a distinguished team of investors and look forward to seeing the over 10,000 Impact pre-orders arrive in people’s homes soon.
While the at-home fitness industry has seen a heavy downturn in the post-pandemic era, companies with solid offerings are holding their ground, and the health and fitness app sector is still forecast to reach $10 billion by 2027. This is a hefty investment from Tencent, and we’re curious to see how a product like the Impact System will land with users. And we’ll keep you posted once we get a chance to try it out for ourselves.
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