Playing video games isn’t thought to work out much more than your thumbs. But that perception could soon change with the rise of virtual reality gaming, and the Boston-based startup VirZOOM is looking to lead the way.
VirZOOM looks just like a typical stationary bike, except the handles are studded with buttons and triggers like an old-school joystick. Users can don either a HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Sony PlayStation VR headset—all of which are slated for release next year—and connect it to the bike. The headset monitors your head movements and translates them to motions in the game, while the bike wirelessly tracks how fast you pedal and paces your avatar accordingly. It can also adjust the machine’s level of resistance based on what you’re experiencing in the game. If the headset shows you driving a race car, for example, you have to pedal harder to keep the same pace over “rougher” terrain. Gamers also have the option to play as an Old West cowboy, or fly as Pegasus and glide over trees and hilly landscapes, collecting coins along the way to gain energy.
For now, the only games compatible with VirZOOM were custom-made for the platform by the company, but they plan to open it up to other developers in the future. The bike will be available for retail purchase next year for $249.95 (or you can preorder now for $199.95). And this may be one expensive piece of exercise equipment that could just pay off. According to a small 2011 study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte, participants playing a virtual reality exercise game experienced increased levels of motivation when the game increased in intensity.
[h/t: MIT Technology Review]