Vi is an AI personal trainer rooted within wireless, bio-sensing headphones that analyzes, tracks and evolves with its athlete. Vi, created by LifeBEAM, started on Kickstarter and with support from over 7.2K+ backers, managed to raise over $1.6MM. Needless to say, that’s a whole lot of love from folks on Kickstarter. With the allure of an analytical mind guiding you through your run, Vi’s also comes with the promise of Harmon Kardon sound quality. Add all the personal touches and you can imagine why so many backers decided to support the project.
Right off the bat, Vi comes in a sleek box that makes you want to open and discover. It’s the ‘Open Me’ prompt, very Alice and Wonderland like. Inside, there are two components: Vi, in all her glory, and all the accessories including a carrying case, USB charger and sizing kit. No instruction manual, which, frankly, you don’t need. Utilizing the instructions written across the packaging, users turn on their phone’s Bluetooth capability, download the app, put on the headset, hit the on button and sync. Vi comes pre-charged and boasts over eight hours of battery life when paired with the app and 12 hours when utilized for daily tasks. Easy wouldn’t begin to describe the process, so tech terrors won’t haunt even the most technology-challenged individual. Just note that the button is at times sticky or unresponsive, it takes a few compressions to get a response.
Once enabled, the consumer will notice the lightweight, ergonomic design. The feel and texture of the headphones have just enough weight that anchors the set to the users’ body. No need to worry about the headphones flailing about and it doesn’t distract from your performance or weigh you down. The earbuds sit perfectly, didn’t even need to change the earpieces. There are three sets, just in case you need a different size, though. The comfort level is a huge desirable factor for Vi.
Let’s talk app! Now, the fitness app component for Vi is by far the least attractive feature. With just a few options for activities and some analytics based on the athlete’s performance, it just won’t compare with well-known wearable apps like Under Armour, Nike, Apple Health and Fitbit. The Vi app provides consumers the ability to free run, distance run, timed run and cycle. Basically, you can cycle… or run, no matter your style. When first hearing about Vi, the activity that comes to mind is yoga, but alas it’s not available at this time. Vi Fitness also sets goals and is limited to a few options, but they’re varied, so consumers can have some flexibility there.
Speaking of options, not surprising with the power of Harmon Kardon behind it, Vi Fitness comes with several opportunities to integrate consumer’s music choices. The primary option is Spotify Premium, which allows the consumer to utilize verbal commands for specific songs, playlists or artists. However, you can run local music libraries that Vi will speak over, but never interrupt. The sound quality is superb. It’s one of the strongest features for Vi. The noise cancelling attribute is near perfect, allowing athletes to get in the zone without having the hustle and bustle of life interrupt. Sound quality is also that much more appealing for everyday functionality. Take calls, listen to music while heading to work or walking about with no Bluetooth interruptions, no call drop-offs and no wires. However, when working out, Vi will check in and it can be hard to communicate with as the user must wait for a tone and then speak. At times, the tone will take a few seconds to initiate and the user’s response would not be registered.
So, how does Vi measure up as your workout partner in crime? She’s quite good. To start, she doesn’t sound like a robot. It sounds silly, but it’s such a comfort to have company that’s not physically with you, but can mentally stimulate you while you’re on the run. Pun intended. Consider the distance runner that will take a route they’ve done before. You don’t have something new to keep your mind off the fact that you’re halfway to completing your seven mile goal, but Vi can give you an update and challenge you with a new technique. One aspect that Vi references to help athletes during their workout is the beacon alert. As you approach a mile-marker or goal you will hear a small pulse through your headphones. It’s not overpowering, but noticeable. This empowers the athlete to push that much harder to get to the next step. And every step lets Vi learn that much more about you.
It takes about two hours of activity time for Vi to fully understand their user’s style, but after that, she’s very knowledgeable of your performance threshold. She knows when you’re pushing too hard, when you can improve your step count, when you’re getting fatigued and much more. More importantly, Vi isn’t there to push you to new heights, she’s going to get you to your goal in a healthy, efficient way without hurting yourself. Best part, she’s got a great personality that makes you want to be her friend. Initially, she can be chatty, but that’s adjustable through your settings. Don’t you wish you could do that to your own friends?
Read on for the Verdict…