Published on January 30th, 2014 | by Greg
Goji Play: Workout, Meet Games
When you’re working out, every activity can feel a bit boring and routine. That’s why so many gyms offer TVs and other visual stimulation, and why systems like Wii Fit and even Kinect dance games like Just Dance make so much sense. Encouraging people to get to the gym and exercise is a pretty positive goal, and it’s possible that there are folks who would be assisted by an interactive set of mini-games that are mostly simple and meant to get you moving.
Those folks should try the Goji Play- though for many, they’ll find the system a bit annoying and more of a hindrance than a help. The hardware is cute- a set of controllers that can be mounted/strapped to your gym equipment like a stationary bike or elliptical machine- along with a tracker (activity sensor) that functions pretty much like you would expect. You’ll need a Apple iOS smartphone or tablet handy, and a way to mount it as well- that’s probably the most difficult part of the package. The goal is “to make 30 minutes of exercise feel like 5″, and we downloaded and installed the free app, connected the hardware via Bluetooth, and set to work seeing if our workout could be more fun with some motivating games.
We liked that you can see various metrics, and the numbers are big, bold, and straightforward- steps, a calories burned counter, workout time. We did have issues with the tracker’s accuracy- for some exercises, like on a treadmill, you might want to try placing it on your shoes instead of near your waist. Also, keep in mind that the Goji Play isn’t meant for all-day use, making it distinct (if less generally useful) than other activity trackers like the FitBit or FuelBand. There are no sleep metrics, and it doesn’t track full-body movement or help train for any particular exercise. Basically, you pop on a game, then progress through it by moving- it’s usually that simple. The racing game is fun, and if you’re OK with button pressing, a fighting title and a bicycling game are decent. Sure, the graphics won’t wow for the most part, but the point is to engage.
Which is, perhaps, where the biggest issue came- because when you’re in the zone, you don’t really want a distraction. And the games presented weren’t procedural or dynamic enough to really elevate your workout; instead, they could end at a moment’s notice and require button presses and halt your movement in between games. There is a gem of an idea here, and certainly we expect to see systems like this become common in some way at the gym. But as it stands today, the Goji Play is a limited-purpose, somewhat complicated system that requires AAA batteries and a slightly-finicky wireless connection to a mildly fun but sometimes annoying result. Cute, even clever, but not quite there yet. The Goji Play runs $100, and is available online now.