It turns out there are a lot more people wanting to go on their own VR cycling adventures than I thought. I’ve had loads of people get in touch to ask what they need to get started cycling in VR, so I’ve been considering launching a Kickstarter to give everyone the chance to join in the fun.
I’m currently thinking that the final package (called “CycleVR” – see what I did there?) will be a complete virtual reality kit that allows you to cycle anywhere in the world from your living room. There’s loads of stuff I still need to work out before I can launch this and I’d love to hear from people about how they might use this or what features they’d like to see, but here’s roughly what I’m thinking of doing:
At the moment it’s super simple and will consist of three things: a virtual reality head set; a cadence monitor; and the CycleVR app. All you need to provide is the bike, a compatible smart phone, and your legs.
For the headset I’m using a Gear VR, but that only works with particular models of phone. To find one that will work with other phones I’ve been buying a number of different units and trying them out to see which one works best. I’ll be adding a list of the ones I’ve already tried, and if you know of any others you think I should put through their paces then please let me know.
The cadence monitor simply sticks on to the crank of your exercise bike and connects to your phone via Bluetooth. It’s a two-minute job and there’s no messy cables or power supplies. I’ve been using a Wahoo RPM and that seems to be very reliable but again, if you’ve had a good experience with any other models please tell me.
I would love the app to be an ongoing service rather than a one shot deal. That way, as I work on new features they could be made available to existing users automatically through updates. To get the app out to users as quickly as possible I thought I might make the first release a bit simpler, so that you’re only able to select from a few preset routes. But over time I’d love to add more features, maybe as stretch goals? Here’s just some of the possibilities I’ve been considering so far:
- Global – Use a map to create a route and cycle anywhere in the world.
- Share – share your favourite routes with friends or the community.
- Multiplayer – cycle with friends and see and talk with them in VR.
- Tourist information – get annotations and other information about the things you’re cycling past.
- Games – Keep the exercise entertaining and play with (or against) friends.
Does anyone have anything else they’d like to see on that list? I could probably include them as stretch goals too if enough people wanted them.
Obviously using Google’s Streeview carries a cost. The more data the app downloads the more it costs, so to make this as cost effective as possible for users I’m looking at a few different options. It may be that it can be supported by advertising while you cycle? But maybe people wouldn’t want that? I don’t know. Another possibility is a subscription service where you pay per kilometer you cycle. So how do you feel about this? Does it put you off? Is there some other solution you’d prefer? Help!
As you can probably tell from the number of questions here there’s still a way to go, so do stay in touch. I’d love to build a little community of VR cycling explorers like myself around this idea and I know that community’s input into this is what’s needed to make it a success. Do hit the Subscribe button to keep up to date with my progress on this and please share CycleVR with anyone else you think might enjoy it too. The more the merrier!
If you’ve got anything you want to talk about you can go to the discussion forums and we can all talk together about it. Don’t be shy.
I am a keen cyclist, living in Dundee and would to see the experiment in action, if possible. I think it has great potential, especially for winter training among all cyclists.
Thanks for getting back.
We’d love your app on VirZOOM, a bike and free SDK we created explicitly for moving around VR. Contact us!
Eu sou do Brasil e estou muito interessada no CycleVR
LOVE THIS. Please do. However, I am a Google Pixel owner, I hope I would be able to take advantage. (Verizon controls EVERYTHING lol)
Thank you, nice read.
This application will be compatible with daydrem view
I’m really interested
Yes it should be a fairly easy matter to support Daydream and in fact the little controller should provide some interesting possibilities.
I am very interested in an app like this. I would be very happy with just a few preset routes for starters.
It sounds like you are taking requests of ways of measuring cadence. I personally use “Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor” which I like and it has tied into other apps that I have used as well as Garmin devices.
Ok thanks for that! It would be great if you could write these up in the ‘Discuss’ section of the blog. That way everyone can join in the conversation.
Hi, I just thought I had this idea first but you beat me to it. Alas. Anyway I love the idea. I have a Samsung Gear Vr and would be very excited even if you just were to release the code you have working for Gear.
Great idea…would love to use it at the gym
Hi – great idea, I am a VR Videographer and have published your story on my website/blog. Please feel free to link back 🙂 https://www.luke-woods.com/vr-cycling-length-britain/
I think a lot of avid cyclists would be keen to use CycleVR to take the menotany out of using their turbo trainers in the winter/bad weather.
One addition that would make it super awesome, and I think even more desirable, is if you could somehow get it to work with the ‘smart’ trainers so that it adjusted resistance depending on the topography. This is a great feature of Zwift.
A monthly subscription like Zwift and Strava is another payment option.
Hi John. Yes adding variable resistance as you suggest is definitely something I want to add in. I considered doing it for my journey but… I’m a lazy cyclist and just wanted to enjoy the scenery without the hardship 🙂
Please check out VirZoom bike. Seems like it would be idea for your app.
Would like to see PS4 port for PSVR.
Another thought – I have a Keiser M3i spin cycle that sends cadence, HR, etc. to the app. Would you consider integration with such setups for your cadence meter requirement?
If it has standard Bluetooth messaging the Keiser M3i looks like it might just work straight away! Thanks for bringing my attention to it.
Take my money! How do I get the app? Already have a vr headset, iPhone and bike.
Sorry it’s not available yet. If you subscribe to the mailing list I’ll let you know when that changes 🙂
When???? This sounds so exciting and perfect for the in-home “non-athlete” who would like to burn calories without the torment.
I’m not a fan of indoor cycling because I want to see scenery all around me, but also don’t like cold so what’s the alternative for the winter? I so enjoyed the Soarin’ experience at Epcot and wished for a similar experience with an exercise bike where one could not only see sights but hear sounds and feel the breeze. Just a senior citizen wish!
Any chance to get this work on a treadmill?
In theory it could work but there are 2 problems with my current system 1) as you bob up and down the goggles will tend to bounce up and down on your head and 2) for the VR to work you’d need a headset that supports headtracking meaning as you move your head up and down your VR view will also change correspondingly. My current set up doesn’t support headtracking but new headsets are always coming out so it’s only a matter of time before someone makes one cheap and light enough.
Great idea looking forward to it. I have a vr headset for my Google pixel Google vr. I’m hoping at launch buying the software as a standalone would be an option also what about the Google license. Would it be able to read tacx trainer Bluetooth sensors or any i.e Garmin speed and cadence sensor and also control the trainer over ant+Fe-c. Great idea
Hi Stephen. We’ll be hoping to support all the major VR headsets and we’ll be looking at tacx integration as we’ve had a lot of interest from people.
can’t wait to have one. I want to see the world from this perspective. I can’t have tourist permit easily, so this device will be my visa to see the world
Will it be only Biking specific? I ride yes but I’d like to have this kind of this for my treadmill.. it shouldn’t be only biking of course. who doesn’t want to do his morning jog in Central Park on VR?!
Yes I’ve thought about using this for other types of exercise. The biggest problem with a treadmill the the headset will bounce up and down on your head. They’re not light enough and stable enough to stay in place.
Brilliant already past my comments on but believe the scope for this will reach the cycling world like a bolt of lightning. Great product for us cave dwellers. I us Tacx TT4 and will love the day you can look round instead of being glued to the screen and if the resistance is still there the worlds your oyster.
I would definitely invest in this company, if you could contact me that would be great.
Fantastic idea, Aaron! I plan to reach the recommended 300 minutes a week of exercising, and this would make it a whole lot more fun.
Can I make a suggestion? I would love it if you could get a GoPro VR camera and get someone to put it on their helmet as they bike in scenic surroundings. That way we would get smooth video, a great route and no royalties to Google.
I would have loved that as an addition to the game.
This is fascinating! I presume the Samsung Galaxy S8+ will work with the VR Headset which is actually made by Samsung? Could I actually buy your app from you?
Hi Elisabeth. I’ve not tried it with an S8 but it works with an S7 so I would assume so. Right now the app isn’t ready for general consumption. It’s only a proof of concept and needs many months of development spent on it.
Thanks for the info. So this is currently a work in progress for you, right?
Yes though ‘progress’ is on hold just now as I’m doing other work. Hopefully I’ll get back to this later.
One more question: what are these large white cubes that come over you as you cycle? One of my friends theorized it might have something to do with a “reality check” of sorts to avoid hallucinations or nausea, but she’s as much of a specialist in this as I am, i.e. not at all. Thanks.
Actually the cubes were only in there originally for my own testing purposes but I left them in because it shows you were the bike will head towards so you’re not taken by surprise so in a sense, yes, it’s to help with nausea.
Aaron Greetings to me 62 I’m running soon I’ll probably just ride my bike your app is very interesting waiting when there’s a kickstarterLet me know about it.