You don’t meet that many lawyers with virtual reality side projects. Eric Greenbaum is one of them and when he isn’t organizing NY VR Meetups, or devising ways to make your Rift more hygienic, he exercises. How you might ask? Using a recumbent exercise bike to cycle through virtual worlds of his choosing.
Project Singletrack is probably the coolest exercise machine in the world and is the first iteration of the Velo VR virtual reality exercise platform by NY startup Jema VR. The SingleTrack setup currently comprises of a DK1 (specially equipped for sweaty exercise use – check the beginning of the video to see how it attaches to his face), a variable resistance exercise bike, an RPM sensor coupled to the exercise bike, and a PC to load up the Nurnburg Ring, Koopa Troopa Beach or any other course the Vela VR guys choose to make.
The current track, built in Unity, includes iconic landmarks such as Palmer Woods and Carmack Pass and looks pretty vast frin tge below photo. Vela say that urban environments, sci-fi settings, and additional natural landscapes and in the pipeline.
The recumbent exercise bike was chosen as the preferred input device as it is a seated experience, produces minimal head movement and leaves the user’s hands free to operate other controls – making it ideal for VR.
Whilst the current mini exercise bike prototype has manually controlled variable magnetic resistance, computer-controlled magnetic resistance is in the pipeline with the promise of real-time reistance changes.
The most exciting aspect of this project is the creation of unique and intriguing virtual environments in which to exercise. Exercising in virtual environments frees participants from geographic, weather, planetary and other reality based limitations that have previously restricted user exercise locations.
Virtual reality exercise also enables exciting social functionality in stationary exercise. For example, remote users could meet in a virtual environment and exercise together. Additionally, user-user interactions can be used to influence the resistance of individual user’s exercise devices. For example, if a player is hit with a projectile in a virtual exercise environment, the damage associated with the “hit” can translate to alterations of the resistance on the user’s exercise device. Velo VR are currently working hard to implement networked multiplayer mode in our system.
Eric Greenbaum has a pretty awesome patent blog (skewed heavily towards VR as you can imagine). It can be found here.