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.