In the game for the living room gym he seems to have very good cards. After all, Markos Kern's physical gaming console serves a growing target group and offers every exergame imaginable in the future.
Your son is about one year old. How many times has he run toward the colorful images your gaming console projects on a wall?
It's actually a very funny question. We started bringing him into our showroom space at about eight or nine months old, when he was already throwing balls around – because obviously, in our office and in our home, there's always a million balls. And by now he's developed quite an aggressive way of reacting if he's in front of a wall, which is not interactive.
Markos Kern at FitTech Summit V: Tech or Die!
On November 8 and 9, 2021, FitTech Summit V: Tech or Die! will take place digitally. At Europe's most relevant conference on the future of fitness and health technology, Markos Kern will discuss the home fitness war for the living room. Get your free ticket now!
Lymb.io is the name of your physical gaming console: player control games displayed on a wall by moving around or throwing balls, tracked by a sensor. Why is your idea so relevant in 2021?
Well, most areas of our life have changed drastically due to tech. And unfortunately, most of the times it has brought people to be more inactive. So, our goal is to use technology in a way that can actually cater towards a healthier life and encourage people to participate in physical education and physical interaction – to play together, learn together, and make sure that obesity and all other bad diseases stemming from physical inactivity do not rise, as they are rising today.
Speaking of obesity, the WHO reported in summer 2021, that about 3 million people are dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Why are physical gaming consoles the solution for an obese mankind?
The inactivity crisis per se is getting worse. But gaming, from very, very far back – to the old days when we started hunting for food – is something so deeply encoded in our brain, that everybody wants to play. So if we can use technology to create systems like physical gaming consoles, it's a very nice shortcut to basically let you intrinsically want what you should be doing in the first place.
Googling “physical gaming console” in November 2021 leads to a list of well-known products like Playstation or Xbox. Why will this kind of list look differently by the end of 2022?
The funny thing is that most people compared us to the Wii we or also to Kinect in the very beginning, and frankly speaking that's a nice comparison. We love what Kinect and all the other systems have done for a very shallow form of physical interaction. But if you look at real sports and the real scope of physical activity, these systems normally don't really cut the baseline. Controlling a ball and your own steps, or manoeuvring in a tight space are much more complex than just wiggling your arm to throw a fireball. And with the proceeds of technology, there is now a new possibility to engage people in a much, much deeper level of learning physical interaction.
Why will your product top this list next year?
First of all, we've looked at most of the systems out there and even at the sensors. We would normally be happy to just use an existing system. But for interacting with a wall at these kind of levels, in terms of speed and precision, and tracking a body in a three-dimensional space as we do...it simply didn't exist. Our solution opens up a complete new variety and new realm of insane possibilities of how to play, train and compete. So we're in a very, very good position to take a good market share of this typical couch-potato who is at home looking for entertainment on a much wider scope. We're not Peloton, we are not the missionaries that preach to the evangelists of cycling.
Which of your technological details is the most fascinating?
It's the sensor which we developed to track everything that happens close to the wall and at the wall, which is like a new form of sensor with a touchless touch capability. It acts at a very, very high precision rate and an insane speed, meaning: we get up to 200 data points per second. That is what enables super complex things like throwing 3D objects, touching the wall, and swiping the wall at speeds that are actually happening in sports, so that you're not just wiping or swiping. When you're boxing, for example, you need to have insane level of detail – and that's what we achieved with the new sensor.
Global games market is on the rise. It reached $220.79 billions in June 2022 and is predicted to grow to $316.40 billions by 2027. (Source: Statista). Why are those figures good news for lymb.io?
Because the baseline of what we do is your ability to get addicted to games or to enjoy games. Normally people always try to compare us with the Pelotons, fitness mirrors or Technogyms. But we always say "no". Our target audience are the people who are driven towards gaming, but are not active yet. So, these numbers are exactly our core audience.
Home fitness is exploding. Active American adults saw significant increases in both at-home fitness equipment (up 218.3%) and online fitness (up 134.7%) as the best way to achieve fitness goals in 2021. What kind of product will win the war for the living room gym?
That's fantastic news. I think the biggest potential to actually win the war for the home gym is a big variety of different applications, meaning - it's not necessarily that one thing that does it for everybody. And at the same time, the sequential order of how we do things these days is getting more and more important. People buy a bike, they do mountain biking – and then three, four years later they decide "maybe I'm going to start rock climbing" . So, any system that can cater towards multiple forms of applications is obviously set up to be very interesting in the future. That's also what we go after with Lymb.io. So we're not the CrossFit hunters, we don't try to get the people from running, but we try to create a platform that has multiple applications for multiple use cases – that will hopefully engage users in ever, ever, ever-changing fun for many years to come.
Speaking about target groups, what did you learn about your customers recently?
The most recent learning that we have within our customer is that it's really, really hard to pinpoint them down. I mean, we know that given the nature of things, we need people that have a certain amount of space in their living room or in their garage. So, we need to target mainly families with a higher income or people that live in houses. The most interesting thing that we learned is about niche markets that we didn't have on our radar at the beginning, like kindergartens. I think we've sold like 30 or 50 systems in the last week just to kindergartens. Obviously, it's a perfect match for them.
How did the pandemic changed your target group?
The pandemic did not only change our target group, but also our whole business model. Before the pandemic, we've been highly focused on B2B sales. We were always planning to have a B2C part of the company, but were planning to do that much later. So it's a little bit of a time travel for us, we had to shift our priority – starting with the B2C side much earlier, with a much lower investment and a much shorter timeline. We therefore gained a complete new target audience, which is the home user.
So who was your typical customer before the pandemic, and who is the typical one after it?
Our typical customer from before the pandemic is still our customer, which is: schools, gyms, hotels, a lot of co working spaces; as well as a lot of sports facilities like soccer academies, tennis clubs, and so on. We kind of kept these and it's really interesting to see that they're heavily coming back. Now the new target audience on the B2C side is the home owner, the mother of three kids, the family; and also a little bit the fitness addict that's much more driven towards gaming than towards running on a treadmill for about two hours a day.
So you are also entering the war for the living room ...
I think we have pretty good chances to win this war, because the philosophy behind our product is a completely different one. We don't try to go into a market that exists and try to get a market share with a typical SaaS model as fast as possible. We tried to create a new category and basically claim a space that hasn't been very much looked at in the beginning: the big projection at home. And how do we do this? We try to provide an extremely wide variety of applications that are all based on using your body as a controller – whether you're doing some math skills test, a yoga lessons, or a one-on-one personal training session, or competing in a fancy, crazy lightsaber game. So we tried to be a little bit more like the Apple TV-slash-PlayStation for active people.
You appeared on startup TV shows in Italy and Germany this year. How did that affect your startup?
The interesting thing is, we've never done any real advertisement so far. We've always tried to hack our way to get attention span, with TV being the Holy Grail. So these two appearances did us really, really well.
Can you share some numbers with us?
A single appearance on the German version of Shark Tank got us about 400.000 of websites impressions within a day. Normally we have around 1.000 to1.500.
What will newspapers report about your product in 2026?
They will report that we created a huge wave of people being active on a daily basis which would normally not engage into physical activity or any form of sports.