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Runtastic Kicks Off Virtual Reality Workouts Via Oculus Rift App

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Runtastic is quickly building a reputation as a leader in the digital fitness market, and now it is doing its best to embrace even the technology of tomorrow.

Runtastic is moving into virtual reality, experimenting with a new app built for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

The software allows users to experience  a workout in a virtual environment, with real-world workout material lasting seven hours. Users can do squats, lunges, yoga and the company's official high-intensity "7-minute workout" while in locations that are designed to inspire far more than exercise done in the living room.

The early version of the software includes locations such as a scenic hillside, a villa close to the beach and even a black hole, which certainly doesn't seem like a relaxing environment for practicing yoga. Users can also watch virtual trainers perform exercises to enhance workout techniques. Runtastic professionals using motion-capture techniques created these 3d avatar trainers.

The Oculus Rift still has no set release date or selling price, but most expect it to sell for between $200 and $400, meaning that it will be affordable to those that can afford smartphones and other consumer tech. The seven-minute workout is a low-cost way to work out at home, meaning no more expensive gym memberships.

Runtastic CEO Florian Gschwandtner already has plans to extend the virtual reality capabilities of his app. Potential enhancements are likely to include the ability to tweak surroundings and better track fitness changes and advancements. The company sees the app as the future of exercise, saying that while indoor exercise can be a pain, the Runtastic app will help make it not only beneficial for the user's health, but also interesting and relaxing.

"We're already working to integrate additional activity types and have found there is really no limit," said Gschwandtner in an interview. "In 2015, we could see Runtastic and Oculus engaging gym fans, runners, bikers and more."

The Oculus Rift is expected to serve a number of functions for consumers, from gaming to maps. Oculus VR, the company behind the virtual reality headset, was bought by Facebook for $2 billion, which was paid in cash and Facebook stock. Many are particularly excited about the device's gaming capabilities, allowing users to be more fully immersed in a world. Despite this, the Runtastic app shows that the Oculus Rift can be used for more than just gaming.

The Runtastic app will be shown off in Las Vegas at CES 2015 and is expected to be released in the upcoming year.

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