Exergame Goji Play launches commercially

By Aditi Pai
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BlueGojiEllipticalSanta Clara, California-based Blue Goji, co-founded by Guitar Hero inventors Charles Huang and Kai Huang, has launched an exergame called Goji Play, available for $99 online. The game is meant to be played at the gym on exercise machines such as treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes.

Blue Goji has three components. The app, available only on iOS devices, a set of wireless controllers that can be attached to any fitness machine, and an activity tracker to wear while exercising. On the app, users can play a variety of games, 12 total, designed for Goji Play. When users play the games, an activity tracker on the user sends data to the app.

"I think for us, one of the things we saw when we worked on Guitar Hero is really great games of course can be fun," CEO Kai Huang told MobiHealthNews. "They can get people up or active -- Guitar Hero got people out of their seats instead of sitting with a standard game controller. People had a lot of fun with that and people didn't realize they were being more active."

Huang decided to adapt this technology to cardio fitness, but to still offer users a way to enjoy what they were doing.

The hardware system went on sale in early October, but only to members of MyFitnessPal as part of an early trial. When surveyed, MyFitnessPal users who participated in the trial reported the game was easy to set up and that time went much faster when on the cardio machines when they were playing the games.

"I feel like we're pretty unique and we're pretty differentiated," Huang said. "Other products in the past that have tried to put exercise onto games, but they were really missing something. Today you see a lot of activity trackers and companies developing trackers to gamify the experience. Where we feel like we're different -- we're not about gamifying exercise, we're about games and having fun while you're exercising. Creating these great experiences where people are immersed, and your movement is made part of the game."

About 40 percent of the users from the trial have specifically identified themselves as nontraditional gamers, but still enjoyed using the games to exercise, according to Huang.

While gyms have expressed interest of buying Goji Play for their members, Blue Goji is currently concentrated on bringing the product to people who have equipment at home gathering dust and those who have a gym membership but may have stopped using it, Huang said.

Goji Play offers users the ability to create different profiles, which include fitness goals, favorite games, and social profiles so that the whole family can play. Though Huang said the primary use of the device is to play games, he found the controllers were easy to use and therefore lent themselves to navigating too. So after evaluating user feedback, he added Goji Reader app, an RSS feed reader, to Goji Play.

A similar product, BitGym, which came out of the Rock Health accelerator, finished a campaign on Kickstarter in September for its smartphones and tablet based program that displays virtual runs while the user works out on a treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical. While BitGym doesn’t connect to the exercise machine, it gauges the user’s speed with the mobile device's front-facing camera, so it can be used on any workout machine. In January, BitGym plans to come out with an Android edition and add an internet-enabled social feature for users to talk while working out.

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