Aaron Puzey has a goal: to cycle his way across all of Britain. This is a noble goal, but not terribly unique especially during Olympic season when stories of amazing athletes are abounding everywhere. What sets Puzey apart, however, is that he is attempting to achieve this marathon bike ride…without ever leaving his house.
“I want to become the first person to cycle through Britain in virtual reality. I really, really do. In fact I might be the first person to cycle any great distance in VR.”
This is how Puzey begins the blog that he is using to chronicle his journey across the island. His bike of choice would not be of the mountain or road variety, but rather an old exercise machine he had lying around his house. Strapped to his head while he peddles is a standard Samsung Gear VR but this is where his story leaves the arena of the commonplace and enters the realm of the downright fanatical.
The video below shows the inaugural moments of Puzey’s journey as he pushes off on his virtual bike trip for the very first time.
Puzey explained his unique hardware and software setup in an email to UploadVR:
“I’m using a stock Gear VR, a cheap bluetooth cadence monitor, my old excercise bike and an app I’ve developed during the course of my journey…In a nutshell it works by pulling Google Streetview data. When you use Streetview you’ll notice that when you hover your cursor over the scene it brings up a rectangle that angles correctly to the building your hovering over. When I saw this I realised the scene must also store some 3d information. Some quick research revealed a method of extracting this information and building up a 3d scene. It was then a simple matter of moving the camera through space as I pedal.”
Puzey’s journey will digitally span from Land’s End — a holiday getaway on Britain’s southeast tip — to John O’Groats — another popular tourist destination on the nation’s northern pinnacle. A journey between these two locales is traditionally excepted to be one that spans the length of the country and many adventurers have undertaken it on foot, bike, or other means of conveyance. Puzey, however, is the first to attempt it in VR.
The travel diary Puzey keeps currently has him in “Stockport on my way to Manchester.”
This puts him just shy of the halfway point. Puzey has been at this since May of this year.
If you want to read about his entire journey, or follow it to its completing, check out his blog or check back on UploadVR for an update when he (hopefully) crosses the finish line.