If you're a runner, one of the easiest ways to keep track of your speed and distance is with a smartphone app like MapMyFitness or RunKeeper. These are particularly popular, because you don't even need to look down at your screen to check stats—a voice chimes in every few minutes (or at whatever interval you set) to let you know how you're doing.
But the advent of Google Glass offers new options for fitness enthusiasts. A Glass app called Race Yourself, which we first previewed in January, lets users keep track of time, distance, and calories with a quick glance at the Glass screen. There are also some games included in the app, like a zombie chase and race against a giant boulder, to make things interesting.
Running down the street in San Francisco wearing a pair of Google Glass is a good way to get heckled. These days, Glass is a symbol of class war in the region, which is increasingly torn apart by an ever-widening income gap. This was on my mind as I jogged next to the San Francisco Bay wearing a pair of Glass-equipped sunglasses.
Nobody bothered me as I tested out the Glass running app with Richard Goodrum, COO of Race Yourself. The app, still in development, wasn't working perfectly during our run. But I still got the gist of it: gazing up and to the right—where the Glass screen is located on a pair of glasses—offered up stats about my running, including distance and calories. No need to wait for a voice to offer up data points, or to look away from the street ahead.
I am only a casual runner, but it was easy to see how the basic features of the app could be useful to anyone training for a serious race, or just looking to improve their speed. The games, on the other hand, would probably appeal to less competitive runners.
I tested out the Race Yourself games indoors while simulating a run. The graphics, which are somewhat basic (they don't look like what you see in the video quite yet, but are still being worked on), offer a variety of experiences: you can race against a zombie, a boulder, or a fast man who can run 100 meters in about nine seconds. You can also race against a train to save a woman lying on the tracks, or race against a man who represents your speed during the last 50 meters of your run (hence the name Race Yourself).
I probably wouldn't use any of the games on a run, especially as a new Glass user. It takes time to adjust to the screen on your face, and paying attention to a digital zombie or train requires a fair amount of concentration—more than I would want to give during a run down city streets.
If I were using Race Yourself on a track or in a less dense area, the games could be entertaining. But they are really just a bonus compared to the main feature: easy access to running stats. Glass can last for up to two hours using the app, which is more than enough for many runners (but certainly not enough for anyone who wants to continue using Glass throughout the day).
Goodrum says that Race Yourself is also talking to existing game platforms about integration. "We're positioning ourselves as a platform," he says. A Race Yourself mobile app will also launch alongside the Glass app, enabling smartphone users to race against Glass-wearing friends.
Race Yourself isn't the only Glass fitness app out there. Strava Cycling's app offers stats about speed and mileage for cyclists and runners.
Race Yourself will be available when Google Glass opens up to the general public, sometime later this year.