The virtual world. That place that feels real but only exists in your computer-stimulated imagination. Your dreams become a reality with the assistance of a genius programmer and good HD graphics.
Is it possible to cross the line between virtual and real and gain some actual benefit from the onscreen experience? We already know the answer to that question is, “yes”. It is beneficial in learning new skills and processes. In sports, it has value for building coordination and preparing athletes for a competitive atmosphere.
What about as it relates to exercise and fitness? Is virtual exercise an unresolvable oxymoron? The designers at VirZoom don’t think so. They’ve built an exercise bike that can transform you into a flying horse and make workouts fun for everyone.
How Long Has it Been in the Making?
Perhaps surprisingly, this is not a new endeavor.
As early as 1992 it was said that “The exercise bike telepresence system has become something of the Holy Grail of this business right now. Everyone is hoping that they can build one that is cheap enough to go into a mail order catalog.” (Laurel, 1992).
Has it really taken 24 years to develop a virtual reality exercise bike? It depends on how you look at it. Products from LifeCycle and Computrainer have been on the market for years. They matched a video display of real-life terrain with a change in pedaling resistance. The Racermate software even allows for competing against other riders on the network.
VirZoom has gone to the next level of virtual reality. It connects the bike to a VR headset so that you control what happens on the video with your body.
How Does it Actually Work?
VirZoom is the name of the sensor-enhanced exercise bike that you ride. You will also need a virtual reality headset and a computer powerfull enough to run advanced gaming graphics.
Their promo video is pretty creative , so maybe it’s worth taking a deeper look.
There are three headsets compatible with it: the Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR, and HTC Vive. After installing the VirZOom software on your computer, you’ll need to take steps to calibrate the headset and make sure it’s communicating with the PC properly. Since VR is quite new on the consumer level, this could create challenges of its own.
The VirZoom bike looks remarkably like a Sunny Health & Fitness folding exercise bicycle. Its 6 feet and 5 inches tall, 260 lbs, The biggest change is the handlebar shape and the grips. Controller buttons have been added so that you can navigate the various game scenarios. By changing pedal speed, triggering the grips, and moving your head around, you control how you move on the screen.
What’s it Like, Is it Fun, Can I Get a Workout?
There are mixed reviews on what it’s like to ride a bike while hooked into a virtual reality screen. The bike is stable and stationary, but the mind is easily fooled by the screen. Leaning with your head, pedaling, and watching yourself jump and fly can make your stomach uneasy.
Body movements such as pedaling
The fun factor will be affected by personal preference and what your expectations are. If you’re an avid gamer and used to complex games and graphics, it comes up a bit short. It’s still in the launch phase and improvements are being made on a weekly basis. As more developers put time into new games it will only improve, so don’t write it off yet.
Maybe you’re looking at this as the magic bullet for your fitness plan? There’s no question that you can get a workout while gaming on this bike. The best news is that you’ll probably be immersed enough in the game that you ride both harder and longer. It will also be easier to start exercising because you have something to look forward to rather than just pedaling through boredom.
The VR headset does get hot and sweaty. Hopefully, some genius comes up with a sweatband-type product to make them comfortable on your face for extended rides.
Who’s it Best For?
The VirZoom exercise bike is relatively affordable . If you already have a game-quality PC and are planning to buy a VR headset, this may be the wisest choice of exercise equipment for you. In other words, Virzoom is best for gamers who want to add some activity into their lives.
The bike is good enough quality to provide a moderate workout on a regular basis. The games may not be quite good enough to stand alone, but if you use them as motivation to ride they’re probably fine.
VirZOom hasn’t created a virtual exercise, but by adding a healthy angle onto something you enjoy, they’ve made it much easier to build your fitness.
When VizZoom is available?
It has been available since June 2016. Based on their website I could see that VirZOOM would be shipped from June, 2016