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New York-based startup Vi today announced that it has raised $20 million to expand its artificially intelligent fitness business. Investors include Joy Ventures, Square Peg Capital, New Era Ventures, Cerca Partners, Triventures, Wellborn Ventures, and FGI Capital Partners.
“With this new round of funding, Vi will be focusing on two main areas,” Vi CEO Omri Yoffe told VentureBeat via email. “First, we will be doubling down on Vi’s personalization, real-time feedback, and awesome, intelligent voice/audio content. Second is to expand Vi’s offering in terms of additional fitness and wellness activities. Our first big announcement following this round is on near horizon with new features [and] will take place mid-July.”
Vi sells the eponymous $149 Vi earbuds, which raised more than $1.68 million on Kickstarter in 2016. They feature Harman Kardon sound, integration with Spotify and Apple Music that queues up tracks matching the beats per minute of the recommended pace, and an AI-powered running coach that analyzes performance data and provides feedback in real time. (If you’re jogging slower than usual, for example, Vi will politely nudge you to pick up the pace.)
“Vi is not like anything people will have heard or seen before. [The assistant] is a listening, talking trainer that is aware of a person’s surroundings, physiology, and activities inside and outside of workout sessions,” Yoffe said. “Our vision is to build the best AI companion for body and mind, [and the] natural first step was delivering an amazing voice-centric running experience.”
Machine learning is core to the Vi experience. The native voice assistant was created from “hundreds of thousands” of audio recordings and delivers insights like injury prevention, stress levels, and weight loss. It also converses with you and responds to voice commands like, “Vi, how am I doing?” and “Vi, step to the beat.”
Biosensors built into the earbuds monitor heart rate, motion, elevation, distance, speed, calories, and heart rate variability, all of which sync to the companion smartphone app for Android and iOS via Bluetooth. There’s also support for third-party platforms like Google Fit, Apple HealthKit, and Strava.
“After showcasing Vi’s experience and benefits through our own hardware device, the next natural and scalable phase we see would be designing Vi’s software to live within additional connected audio devices such as phones, earphones, and smartwatches,” Yoffe said. “This will allow us to reach more people and make personal wellness even more accessible. You can expect some exciting product and partnership launches later this year.”
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