Virtual trainer keeps you fit even when stuck at home

Israeli tech startup Kemtai brings a personal trainer into your home even when you’re in lockdown.

In the new normal of lockdowns and quarantines, home exercise videos provide a way to move your body while maintaining social distance.

Israeli startup Kemtai is adding an extra dimension of interactivity to a format that’s been a hit since Jane Fonda popularized the home workout in the 1980s.

Kemtai is more akin to a personal trainer. Using the camera on your computer, Kemtai employs computer vision to scan your body. You can then choose one of the dozens of workout routines on the Kemtai website.

As you exercise, Kemtai’s virtual “trainer” compares what it sees you doing with the exercise routine previously input into the Kemtai system, then nudges you in the right direction. The trainer will give you real-time instructions and feedback, telling you to bend this way or that, squat lower, straighten your back or hold your elbows at more of a 90-degree angle – all based on what you’re actually doing.

The Kemtai system watches your exercise and gives you feedback to improve your routines. Photo: courtesy

All the processing is done on your desktop or laptop computer. The software doesn’t yet work on iPhones, iPads or smart TVs. (An iPad can’t handle the real-time comparisons, and smart TVs lack a camera.)

The Kemtai system was officially launched on May 19, sooner than originally expected.

Kemtai Chief Business Officer Mike Telem. Photo: courtesy

“The plan was to do small user testing for a few months,” Mike Telem, Kemtai’s chief business officer, tells ISRAEL21c.

“But when people started getting quarantined, we thought we have something that’s ‘good enough’ to help people right now. We felt, let’s let people use and enjoy it.”

During the initial beta period, Kemtai conducted a feedback survey, Telem told ISRAEL21c.

“Of the random 400 people polled, 82 percent of the respondents said they felt Kemtai’s feedback helped them to improve their home workouts and more than 90% said they would recommend Kemtai to a friend,” reports Telem.

The company’s long-term goal is to become a platform for personal trainers to connect with their clients when they can’t be there in person. That will also free trainers post-COVID crisis from the limitation of how many hours they have in a day to work with their clients.

Kemtai has been adding trainers and workouts during its beta period so that users can choose a style that appeals to them most. The latest trainers hail from Israel, New York, and Tokyo. At the time of its official launch, Kemtai already had 10,000 registered users in 20 different countries.

Kemtai software is available on a “freemium” model — the basics come at no cost, but you pay for extras such as specific workouts (marked clearly as “premium.”). A month-to-month subscription costs $20 with a discount for an annual plan. Fees are shared between Kemtai and the participating trainers.

Kemtai’s system guides you through choosing fitness routines. Photo: courtesy

Telem emphasizes that Kemtai’s interactivity, as well as its scoring functionality – you get a “grade” at the end of each session so you can see how well you’re improving session by session – “are essential for having an effective and fun workout. It feels like there’s someone out there with you.”

The six-person company that Telem launched with cofounders Naomi Keren (chief product officer) and Mor Amitai (CEO) only opened shop last year. Kemtai is raising money through the Jerusalem-based online crowd investing platform OurCrowd.

That goal may just have become a bit easier, given the dramatically increased interest in being able to stay active while sheltering in place.

You can try out Kemtai by signing up for a free account here 

Other Israeli workout technologies

While Kemtai doesn’t have any direct competition using computer vision to customize a workout, it is not the only Israeli startup aiming to keep us fit during the pandemic and beyond.

Fitness22 offers a suite of apps to guide conditioning and training workouts with the help of a digital personal trainer.

EyeClick’s BEAM interactive projector game system converts any space into a virtual playground on which kids can engage in the system’s 200 interactive movement activities.

MoonRun has a sling trainer device embedded with movement sensors for at-home aerobic exercises such as walking, running, sprinting, turning, jumping, and squatting.

FitMyTime facilitates live, online, one-on-one, or group fitness and yoga workouts on a pay-by-the-hour basis.

About the Author:

Brian has been a journalist and high-tech entrepreneur for over 20 years. He combines this expertise for ISRAEL21c as he writes about hot new local startups, pharmaceutical advances, scientific discoveries, culture, the arts, and daily life in Israel. He loves hiking the country with his family (and blogging about it). Originally from California, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children.

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