Do people want their fitness at home to be in the form of video games? The incredible popularity of games like Ring Fit Adventure suggests this.
London-based startup Quell believes this is just the beginning of the genre, and they have raised a $ 3 million startup round to prove it.
At the center of Quell & # 39; s gameplay is the "Gauntlet" – a kind of harness that the player slips onto in order to control Quell & # 39; s games. As players slap and dodge their way through the world, Gauntlet's built-in sensors measure things like stroke speed and accuracy, while adjustable resistance bands challenge things.
We wrote about Quell here back in August and named it one of our top startups from the Y Combinator S20 Demo Day.
Investors for this round include Twitch co-founders Kevin Lin and Emmett Shear, AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, WikiHow founder Josh Hannah, TenCent, Khosla Ventures, Heartcore, Social Impact Capital and JamJar Investments. Doug Stidolph, co-founder of Quell, tells me they initially raised with a value of $ 10 million. By the time they shut down final investors that round, the valuation had risen to $ 15 million. The company recently completed a Kickstarter campaign that raised £ 501,341 (approximately $ 670,000) from nearly 3,000 backers. With the ongoing pandemic making it more terrifying and risky to hit the gym (if your state / county allows it at all), interest in and demand for fitness options for the home will continue to grow.
The source hardware and games are initially developed for PC, Mac and mobile devices. That means no console support to begin with – a bummer as a big old TV seems like the ideal display for such games, and consoles are probably the most user-friendly way to get it there. It's something the company has on its roadmap to hopefully address in the future, but the added cost / complexity of the console hardware approval process was a little too high to take on at launch.
In the meantime, Quell is building up his own game studio and hiring people like Peter Cornelius (formerly lead producer at the developer-oriented gaming tech company Improbable) as Game Production Director. One of the main goals, says Quell co-founder Cameron Brookhouse, is to create games that get the player to exercise while they're still deeply absorbed. You want the gameplay to encourage movement intuitively rather than prompts that say “OK! Time for jumping jacks! "
The Quell team informs me that the first hardware is expected to be delivered at the end of 2021. They are currently working on getting their prototypes into production and figuring out how to make it easier, for example, to adjust the resistance or replace the glove from user to user, and to increase the number of different exercises, its sensors can detect and gamify.