You’re walking down a deserted high school hallway, catching your breath as you search for weapons. Perhaps there’s a baseball bat in the locker room? Maybe a health pack in the nurse’s office? You hear the haunting moans of the undead approaching from behind, and you pick up your pace to a steady jog. You book it to the equipment closet and find an arsenal of sporting goods. You grab the heaviest bat you can find and retrace your steps, preparing to send a zombie’s head flying farther than a Babe Ruth homer.
This isn’t an actual zombie apocalypse. Instead, it’s a realistic first-person running simulator, which could soon be coming to your living room thanks to the fourth-generation Apple TV and the tvOS SDK.
The success of Nintendo’s Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus clearly demonstrates the strength of the fitness gaming market. As of September 30, 2015, these titles alone have sold a combined 43.78 million units worldwide (Wii Fit = 22.67 million | Wii Fit Plus = 21.11 million). Add the Xbox 360 Kinect and PlaystationMove to the mix, and you’re looking at a multi-billion dollar industry that will continue to grow as more devices connect to our home entertainment systems.
To get an idea of how the Apple TV will further this ecosystem, let’s examine how our hypothetical zombie simulator can not only survive but thrive in the Internet of Things.
In the simplest form of the game described above, users will jog in place in front of their televisions, Siri Remote in hand, as their pace is calculated and their in-game position is updated accordingly. Thanks to the Siri Remote’s accelerometer and gyroscope, the remote will act like a Wii controller, monitoring the gamer’s activity level and arm position. Tapping and swiping the controller’s touchpad would allow you to perform functions like choosing your path or selecting a weapon. And if you need a break, just tell Siri to take it easy.
As you train, the game learns your speed and endurance baselines and provides challenges that push you to the next level. In addition, workout stats such as calories burned, distance traveled, and other game-related stats like points earned, health status, and a map will all be displayed on the screen.
This beginner version of the game has the broadest market appeal since no additional hardware is required. Instead, users will simply download the game on their $149 or $199 Apple TV, grab their Siri Remote, and run for their lives in the comfort of their living room. It will certainly be more entertaining than your mom’s old Jazzercise tapes, but things get even better when you add a little more hardware.
A more sophisticated version of the zombie simulator would allow users to connect their Apple Watch to their Apple TV, providing the game with access to a user’s Activity app, where their heart rate is monitored, and their exercise stats are stored. The collected data could be applied towards the user’s game score or dictate the pace of play. For example, if a player’s heart rate is too low, the game will know to send in more zombies. If it’s too high, the game will give the player a place to hide until their pulse returns to safer levels.
What’s more, wearing an Apple Watch while playing the zombie simulator could save users money on health insurance. According to the health analytics company, Welltok, 96% of consumers would engage in healthier behaviors if they were rewarded, and health insurance providers are taking notice. Allstate, John Hancock, and Health Care Service Corporation are a few US health insurance providers experimenting with fitness tracker incentives. Employers are also getting on board, including IBM’s Commit to Health program, where employees are given a free or discounted Apple Watch under their health insurance plan. But if you want to earn points and reduce your insurance premium, think about integrating some connected gym equipment.
To maximize the zombie run simulator experience, users could connect a smart treadmill or stationary bike to their Apple TV for an additional touch of realism. NordicTrack already offers a similar experience with their iFit platform, where fitness enthusiasts use Google Maps to select which running or biking trail they’d like to conquer. The built-in monitor then displays a first-person video of the chosen route, while the workout machine detects the elevation changes and adjusts accordingly.
As fun as running or biking around the Eiffel Tower might be, just imagine how much more exciting things it would be with zombies added to the mix. For example, instead of kicking your knees higher to simulate climbing a hill, you could increase your speed and inclination to sprint towards safety.
We think this zombie simulator would be unique, but for those of you who prefer a more traditional fitness experience, the new Apple TV already offers some tamer solutions. Zova, a popular calisthenics app, added Apple TV support for their latest update. Streaks Workout provides a minimalist exercise regiment for your home gym. And as more fitness companies and startups begin to see the potential of the fourth-generation Apple TV, you can bet that exercise apps and games will invade our living rooms faster than a horde of zombies. We can’t wait!