“Beyond YouTube”, entering the AI Home Fitness era

For Koreans, exercises like walking or riding a bicycle have become part of life. It’s not only good for your health, but there are also many people who exercise to relieve stress and feel more energized.

The spread of COVID-19 created a large interest in exercising at home (Home Training). As public exercise facilities such as gyms and swimming pools have either been closed or restricted, the home has become the best place to exercise regularly. Workout videos for people to exercise along to, are constantly being uploaded to Youtube.

AI Teaches You How to Exercise

IPIXEL, a Korean start up, provides an online home training service that takes this one step further.

In this service, as a user follows the exercises demonstrated by the professional trainer in a video, AI is used to check their exercise technique, help them adjust it and record how much they have exercised. After filing a patent in 2019, this concept is being realized through an app called “HowFIT”.

iPIXEL has concentrated on two points to differentiate this service.

“Communicating” with an Instructor Without Showing Your Camera 

Firstly, it concentrates on improving the satisfaction of exercising at home by both recording how much you have exercised over time and enabling you to compete with other people.

Secondly, iPIXEL has applied ‘On-Device AI’ Technology that analyzes the user movements on the smartphone itself. Rather than sending images to a cloud based server and analyzing the user’s movements there, which is how existing artificial intelligence services usually work.

Concerning this, iPIXEL Founder and CEO,  Sangsoo Lee explained  “From market research, it seems that many people are worried that their faces, clothes, and homes will be exposed if camera images are sent to cloud servers, so we decided to implement the system on-device to address those concerns,”.

In fact in the US and other global markets in fields such as AI, protecting facial and other personal information is emerging as a key issue.

Learn by Yourself with Exercise Recognition “Awesome!”

The technology is complex but it is simple to use.

When the user downloads the HowFIT app on their phone, they have access to around 200 exercise videos, all around 30 minutes long. Video content is sorted into five categories: pilates, fitness, diet, posture correction, and calorie burning, and also can be selected based on body part and difficulty level. At this point, it is a good idea to watch the video on a large screen like a TV or monitor in order to exercise along with it. This can be done wirelessly or simply by connecting a HDMI cable from the phone to the TV, which lets you view the phone’s screen on the TV.

When you start the exercise video, you will see the instructor video on the left of the screen and yourself moving on the right side of the screen. As you move, lines are displayed on your head, shoulders, arms, legs so you can see whether you are moving accurately and count how many exercises you have done. The AI uses reference data from the fitness trainer’s movement patterns recorded beforehand and uses this to evaluate your movements. If you do well, effects appear, praising you with “Awesome!” or “Perfect!” along with positive sound effects. It feels somewhat like playing the game “DDR” (Dance Dance Revolution) that was popular in the late 90s.

Live streamed classes are also interesting. From morning to night at scheduled times, professional instructors host live classes. The instructors do not see you directly, rather they see the scores and exercise count amounts as analyzed by the AI and they give explanations or advice on performing the exercises.

Realtime Lessons and Competition Without Being Seen

The more you exercise the higher your ranking goes up. Even at home in your comfortable clothes you can get the experience of competing with other people.There are also plans to combine motion recognition technology with Augmented Reality (AR). For example if you make a heart shape above your head with your arms, you will send a heart emoticon to the instructor.

Currently, there are seven professional trainers active on the service, and next month they will be joined by Yang Jungwon, a famous Pilates instructor. CEO Lee said “In the COVID-19 era, instructors are also in high demand on exercise platforms, for both face-to-face or non face-to-face lessons”

“We are also trying to make connections with gym members, for example by giving them a coupon if they perform a lot of “perfect” exercises inside the app, or other similar motivational promotions”.


HowFIT is currently released as a beta version, available for free for testing and bug fixing, and is scheduled to start official service this Fall. Since the app was introduced in March, the number of monthly users has increased five times as of this July. iPIXEL has been recognized as having both high technological and business potential and has recently started business with KT and Shinhan Life (formerly Shinhan Life Insurance). They plan to release the HowFIT service through KT’s Olleh TV by the end of this year, where users will be able to exercise on a large screen without having to connect their smartphones.


CEO Sangsoo Lee, who graduated from Yonsei University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has an interest in games and previously worked in the Neowiz Games division before starting iPIXEL. He said, “While working for a game company that was sensitive to technology trends, I realized how serious it was to miss out on the introduction of the smartphone” adding, “When the location-based game ‘Pokemon Go’ came out in 2017, I thought Augmented Reality (AR) was a next generation opportunity, and I started my own business with the thought that I shouldn’t miss it this time”.

Reality Connected to the Digital Is Coming

Augmented Reality is a technology that recognizes objects in reality and superimposes virtual objects on them. Given that the metaverse, where virtual and physical reality exist together, has recently emerged as a global theme, CEO Lee’s expectations have been proven somewhat right. “The goal and vision is to change how people use digital content”, he said, “Up until now watching has been the primary way in which we interact with digital contents such as videos. In the future, content that is ‘connected to reality’ such as exercise, education, leisure, and dance will be the key”.

CEO Lee said, “In Korea, there is a huge shortage of excellent human resources such as artificial intelligence developers” adding, “I feel sorry to see that promising young people are still afraid of risks and prefer stable jobs such as public officials and lawyers instead of working at start-ups”.

“There was a time when Chang Byung-gyu, Chairman of Krafton, creators of the world-class box office game ‘Player Unknown: Battlegrounds’, also had to borrow money in order to pay his employees”, he said adding, “Start-ups may be difficult, but it’s a great challenge to imagine and dream what you want to do on your way to work every morning” he emphasized.

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