Oculus started primarily for gaming, she says, but with an eye on social connection, productivity, and more.
“The rapid growth and popularity of the fitness use case proves that point,” Peace says. “It shows that VR as a technology is developing into what we predicted it will be: the next computing platform, a multi-functional device that people will one day use as commonly as they use phones and laptops today.”
Meta doesn’t release sales figures, but Peace says the Quest 2 Oculus device was among the hottest holiday gifts and was featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things. The Oculus app was No. 1 on Apple’s App Store on Christmas Day, she said.
In VR fitness and health, Oculus is not alone. Other manufacturers are trying to reach the market as well. So are fitness brands and influencers like Les Mills, Katie Austin, FitProVR, and Alyson Stoner.
VR is appealing to many non-gymgoers because it’s fun — more like playing, they say, than exercising. It can raise the heart rate and burn calories, and it’s private, without the gym’s crowds and mirrors.
For people who have never exercised, it can be a bridge to healthier lifestyles. For people who have limited ability to leave the home — because of age or a medical condition — it can be life-changing.
For example, MyndVR promotes its VR devices and programming to help residents of senior living facilities “visit” foreign locations or even their hometowns.
The Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise at Clark University in Massachusetts has been using virtual reality to address mental health concerns and has found it to be effective, says Angela M. Bazydlo, a media relations manager.
Clark opened a sensory immersion room at the Solnit Children’s Center, a psychiatric residential treatment facility in East Windsor, CT, for boys 13-17 whose backgrounds often include trauma, depression, or anxiety. VR devices can calm the boys and help them express their feelings.
A study at the University of Washington showed VR therapy was “promising” in improving joint mobility and easing pain.