Since we first heard of the resurgence of VR, we envisaged that someone would bring this product to market (and which regular gym attendees hadn’t?). It seems that Widerun are very close to market with their version of the gym-expanding virtual bike ride.
On Yer Bike!
Do you get bored on cycles at the gym? Does cycling around the city scare or frustrate you? As a cyclist, if you’ve ever been cut up by a driver on their mobile, knocked on your arse by someone who thought you were too small to do any real damage or just gotten bored of traffic lights and bad weather, then this might be the product for you. It’s aiming to solve problems associated with cycling on the streets with a solution that not only let’s you do it from the safety of your own home, but actually puts you anywhere you want. At the time of writing, there are more than a dozen different environments, but Widerun are committed to opening their platform for developers to create experiences of their choosing.
Although prices have not been set, Widerun are aiming to keep them as low as possible, to ensure everyone can benefit from the perks of virtual reality biking. It’s clearly going to be a Big Thing, and they know it.
Smart Bike Trainer
Downloads of their software will be available from the Widerun marketplace, for which access is granted with the purchase of their smart bike trainer – the hardware that your bike sits in while you explore virtual realms. The trainer device tracks your position, weight and even height, in order to feed back the slopes and rises of your experience, giving you truly synchronised stimulii and keeping you in the zone. There will be free environments as well as premium offerings, which will presumably drive community efforts. Widerun are working on an SDK with a track generator plugin for various game engines, though Unity is the primary target at present. They’re about the launch a Kickstarter campaign and we’ll update with a link when that arrives.
If you’re wondering about fogging/misting up and all the other problems that come from sweating your way along a grueling version of the Hobbit’s Shire, then you’re not alone. This is something Widerun are taking very seriously and are weighing up various options before committing. We’re interested to see what they come up with, but are guessing that some sort of mask between you and your beloved Rift would be a good place to start…
So what is it?
In order to run your own personal VR bike-treadmill, you’ll need a standard bicycle with 26-29″ wheels, which is placed on their ‘trainer’, allowing you to pedal without going anywhere. Their software is installed to the platform your HMD is attached to and you select the virtual experience from their marketplace. It’s uncertain whether you need to be online while you enjoy the ride, but in some cases it would definitely help as there are multi-player options, such as races and time-trials. It’s easy to see this being a massive hit with those trying to keep fit as well as professionals looking to hone their skills on the slopes of Mont Blanc in readiness for the Tour de France.