Running Stories is a workout app that combines jogging with audio AR
Add a bit of fiction to your fitness.
Ann Perkins understood how monotonous jogging can be when she lamented on Parks and Rec, "Jogging is the worst. I know it keeps you healthy, but God, at what cost?" Fair point, Perkins.
To lessen that hellish feeling, BBH Singapore has launched an app that relies on augmented audio reality to prevent boredom while you run. During your laps, the app — which is part fitness, part entertainment — runs a story in the background in which you are the protagonist and the details in the story reflect your actual surroundings. Think bridges, tunnels, stairs, alleys, and other big and small pointers.
The nature of the plot changes based on the landmarks surrounding you. It's an amusing mix of real-time data, physical landmarks, and good ol' storytelling that makes your average run in the morning (or evening) a lot more engaging. The bad news is that the creators of the app only had Singapore in mind, so the story running in the background reflects major Singaporean landmarks and nothing else. But don't worry; BBH Singapore has plans to go worldwide in the future.
Be the hero of your own story (and jog) — Variety is the spice of the life. With BBH Singapore's fitness app, available on the App Store right now, you're getting different genres and different story arcs. One story is suspensefully titled "The Extraction." I imagine this kind of story is about spying, living on the shadier side of life, and trying to avoid attracting spotlight. This kind of run would feel ideal with a track like Unravelling by Harry Escott in the background. Yet another title is "The Runner Without A Past," which sounds like 'Gone Girl but make it a workout.' To lighten things up, there's also "Runner's Body," which is apparently a sitcom.
It's Nice That reports that the app's creative lead, Joakim Borgstrom, explained the app as an "enter-training" app, a fancy spin on "entertaining."
"You go to the starting point of the run and then the audio directs you, that’s where the magic is," Borgstrom told It's Nice That. "The audio augmented reality talks about elements that are in front of you in the physical world, and the story is tailored to your location. The app reads your direction, your pace, and your environment. For us, this is just the beginning because, in the future, we’ll be able to use more real-time data – bus timetables, opening hours, things like that – the possibilities are endless."
We're not so certain about the "endless" bit — after all, the same story gets boring and hackneyed — but this is a decidedly different approach than podcasts or songs in the background while you run. By taking real-time data, Running Stories can actually give beginners the push they need to make running a habit. For advanced runners, it's just a nice touch to imagine an alien invasion while they wrap a lap up. And if you don't like running at all, you can just try OpenFit.