“This app will change bike training forever, it’s that good”
A bloke called Aaron Puzey has biked nearly half way from Land’s End to John o’Groats. He has passed through Bristol, Birmingham, Penzance and Stockport but get this… he hasn’t left his living room in Dundee.
He has pedalled around 370 miles, taking him over the River Tamar into Devon, and into Dartmoor and over the clifton suspension bridge in Bristol.
He is mid way through the country in virtual reality. “I don’t have to worry about hills, rain, cars or dogs” he chuckled. “I can go absolutely anywhere… I can stop whenever I like. I don’t have to worry about making it back to the house.”
Boredom inspired him to create Cycle VR, an app that synchronises an exercise bike, a Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone, Gear VR goggles, a cycling cadence monitor and Google’s Street View mapping software.
The app turns Street View data into a 3D model, which is fed into the VR goggles. The cadence monitor converts the speed of the exercise bike into progress in the virtual world.
“I’ve been riding the exercise bike for years, just half an hour each day, but it’s just a bit monotonous,” he said.
“I’d been daydreaming for a while about the possibility of using VR to make it a bit more fun and now the technology has arrived to make it happen. However, it’s still a long way away from being outside, hearing the sounds, smelling the smells.”
Mr Puzey, a software engineer who once worked on the Grand Theft Auto video game series, tweaks his app as he ventures virtually north. “I’m quite sensitive to nausea,” he said.
“There was one occasion where I just had to stop, just after the 100km mark, but I’ve improved the camera since then and it’s significantly better now.”
Among the little problems he faces are his goggle steaming up, sweat running in his eyes and the app crashing. “Fun things like that.”
Virtual reality will hit the mainstream in the coming months with the arrival of several high-tech headsets, such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Sony’s PlayStation VR and Microsoft’s HoloLens.
Video gamers are the main targets but the devices have also been tested in operating theatres, for battlefield simulations and by pornographers.
Mr Puzey said that he hoped to turn Cycle VR into a commercial product. “Also, I’d quite like to cycle through Japan,” he said.
How we embraced digital living
With its motion-sensing controllers, the Nintendo Wii brought the tennis court, bowling alley, golf course, athletics track and gym into the living room in 2006.
A decade ago the average Briton received 18 social letters a year. That figure has fallen to about 11 but more than nine in ten adults aged between 16 and 24 now use social networks.
Microsoft’s Flight Simulator software has been training wannabe pilots since 1982. At £19.99, it costs much less than an hour in the air with an instructor.
More than three quarters of Britons buy goods and services online, spending almost £1 billion a week. It accounted for 14.2 per cent of retail spending in June, up from 12.6 per cent a year earlier.
Isn’t it insane where technology is taking us these days. Hopefully it will continue to make our workout and training experiences easier and easier.