BrainStorm Reality is a new kind of gym experience designed from the ground up to incorporate VR. I had the pleasure of chatting with its founder, Jonas Bergström, about his new ideas. His plans are ambitious, but his dreams fit right alongside our hopes for VR fitness. We believe that VR unites us as a community, that we motivate one another to be our best selves, and that gamifying fitness will keep us motivated to succeed.
With BrainStorm, Jonas and his team are incorporating concepts we know and love with their own special twist. For Jonas, the brain is a game too. Why not hack it? If we can “trick” the brain into thinking or expecting a certain outcome, certainly we could achieve something more. Right?
I think it’s best if we let Jonas take it from here.
VRFI: What is BrainStorm Reality?
BrainStorm Jonas: As an entrepreneur, hundreds of ideas per week pop into your head. 99.9% of them you decide to throw away. We found new companies and projects on a regular basis, but this is the most exciting journey we believe we will ever take.
BrainStorm Reality is a new venue that will provide cardio and fitness training as well as psychological exercises through the amazing technologies that VR and AR bring to humans. Our vision is to grow to a revolutionary new training community and change the concept of health in the foundation of our brain´s deepest perceptions. By 2025 we believe this concept will be ready.
VRFI: What do you see as the power of VR?
BrainStorm Jonas: Deeper awareness and understanding of yourself, as well as others. VR allows us to experience the many functions of ourselves that are not controlled by consciousness and free will.
Body and mind as one.
Our brains are both clever and stupid. The brain can conceptualize three-dimensional images through a two-dimensional screen as we all know. TV’s, computers or phones..
It also tells us that we are sitting in a certain room and space and that we are looking AT the TV, computer or phone…
Inside the VR, however, parts of the brain cannot understand that virtual reality is not real at all. The three-dimensional optical illusion that VR gives us, is now good enough to fool our brains that we are not looking AT something anymore, we are IN something new. It took a while to make it this good and the era has just begun.
The technology reaches several subconscious functions of ourselves which in many ways can be very useful. For example:
- The distractions of new mind-blowing environments will keep your brain excited and very busy as you workout in environments you have never been before. You´ll be in the game and immersed in the experience so deeply that you easily forget how tired you are. This will be true for all of us regardless of fitness level. We feel that workouts are easier and go by faster in virtual worlds than in the actual one.
- Therapy will revolutionize alongside the physical benefits. Treating fear and learning more about yourself, or what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes for a while.
- Training the subconscious functions will enable us to change our thought patterns and instincts.
VR also has the power to create global connections between humans. Going for a Sunday bike ride in the Alps with some friends, who are all geographically located across the globe, is a very pleasing way to get your morning routine. We believe that when the technology is good enough, more and more people around the world will decrease their travel to some degree. Instead of us going everywhere, we will bring everywhere to us.
VRFI: BrainStorm attempts to merge the physical with the psychological. Will we see some new content and gym-specific applications?
BrainStorm Jonas: At the moment no.
The first 2 years we will offer a mix of developer’s products in addition to our own, alongside a few specific apps.
We think VR, in general, is still new enough that we can all benefit in supporting each other. After a few years, the market will at least have been established and us players have something to analyze. By then I guess the ones who were in it early on will succeed dramatically within their journeys.
A customized BrainStorm app is not something we think is needed for us until next year.
VRFI: What are some of the key ways BrainStorm will improve mind and body fitness? How can members track their progress?
BrainStorm Jonas: This is a 100 million dollar question.
But to simplify it’s about uniting the perception of body and brain, which are currently separated. I could write thousands of pages on this subject but let me give you one example:
Maybe you’ve noticed that an athlete in any sport is always commenting on how the body felt and then how the ”head” felt, or vise versa?
Also which thoughts connect to which feelings for each personality type and individual characteristics in which situations? Which body symptoms generate which thoughts?
To find answers to these questions we need to go deep into our brains and a few hundred years back in history as it is both biological and highly culturally varied.
VRFI: Will BrainStorm maintain any kind of leaderboard? Are members encouraged to compete or to motivate one another to succeed?
BrainStorm Jonas: Yes, yes and yes!:-)
VRFI: Will BrainStorm collect any user statistics, such as heart rate or calories lost, to customize and improve a user’s experience?
BrainStorm Jonas: For some customers probably yes.
Not beneficial for everyone though.
VRFI: What do you see as VR’s big hurdle? How does BrainStorm overcome this challenge?
BrainStorm Jonas: From a technology point of view AR is the biggest threat in some fields of businesses, and for a number of reasons. At least for the ones who will not adapt in time. AR will probably be more useful sooner or later, but definitely not in all areas.
The biggest difficulty VR already faces is the same as most businesses nowadays. IT´S COMMUNICATION. The amount of channels humans have today to reach out with their messages and information is chaotically high.
As we all can find anything from anywhere in just a few seconds we will choose products and services from companies that we feel we have some sort of more meaningful connection to. Communication sounds easy, but it´s really not. Humans are way worse than we like to think we are in this area. Therefore the key to success in this accelerating world of ours is social and emotional intelligence. Hire people with high social skills and you´ll be fine. And forget social media. That era is doomed. That’s monologues, debates, conversations, and discussions not COMMUNICATIONS. At least the individualized part of social media, with for example Instagram and Twitter, has already played out its meaning. We’re just waiting for something new to arise. When everyone stands on their own stage there is no one in the audience to listen.
VRFI: It sounds like BrainStorm is encouraging a true lifestyle shift of mind and body. Do you think your members will adopt VR at home and is that something that troubles you or your business?
BrainStorm Jonas: Yes, we hope so.
Even though we have the patience that it will take some years we´re very excited to begin the ride. The first steps are always the best!
We don’t see it as a threat. We will constantly change and adapt to our customers. From the beginning to the end.
VRFI: Where do the next five years look like for BrainStorm, and when can we experience its brand of VR fitness for ourselves?
BrainStorm Jonas: Very easy and smooth start from April 2019 until winter 2020.
Stockholm and Copenhagen this year. LA next year. Between 2021-2025: Paris, London, Tokyo, Barcelona, Berlin.
As we aim to create a community of a global and a urban spirit we spread to international key cities prior to national expansion. Every city will have one location that´s is purely about socializing. A restaurant/bar/cafe with live music and art exhibitions etc.. These will be the hearts of our culture.