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Meta Sees VR Fitness Revolution, Will Make Its Next Headsets “Sweat-Proof”


Andrew Cohen

When Meta — then known as Facebook — bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, the virtual reality headset was expected to become a home for next-generation gaming. What the social network did not anticipate has been the embrace of fitness-themed apps to workout in virtual reality. 

“I now have a completely different mindset about where I think gaming on VR is going. Where it’s going, in my opinion, is it’s going to revolutionize fitness,” Rob Shaw, Meta’s director of North American sports partnerships, said Wednesday at SportTechie’s State Of The Industry conference. He spoke on the “Engaging Fans in the Metaverse” panel alongside Candy Digital CMO Andre Llewellyn and Atlanta Braves VP of marketing and innovation Greg Mize.

Meta ignited its push into fitness last November with its acquisition of virtual reality fitness app Supernatural. With VR apps that span boxing, dance and other full-body workouts, Meta is building its next Quest headset to be “sweat proof.”

“The next iteration that we’re going to have of our current Quest 2 product is to make the headset more sweat proof, to have the controllers have better grips,” Shaw said. “People are using our platform to workout, and it’s not something we necessarily forecasted. We now have creators who are developing these games for people to be active. So I think gaming is going to change in many ways.”

Last month, the NFL partnered with StatusPro to develop a virtual reality football game. That game, which will be available on Meta’s Quest and PlayStation VR headsets, will prioritize movement — such as users making physical throwing motions — while playing quarterback in its virtual football environment.

Meta also partnered with the NFL around Super Bowl LVI to let fans dress their digital avatars in Rams and Bengals-branded clothing. The digital apparel was free to buy across Meta’s platforms, but the company expects to eventually have users pay for their virtual avatar’s swag.

“Our intent is to develop a marketplace where those jerseys or shirts can be sold,” Shaw said. “There will be a business model where the monies can go back to the leagues and teams or whoever owns the IP.”

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