The VirZOOM exercise bike with controller buttons built into the handles is now available for pre-order at around $250, though there’s a discount being offered at the time of this writing that brings the price down. When combined with a wired VR headset like the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR or HTC Vive, the bike looks like a tempting way to stay fit while enjoying a variety of included games. The faster you pedal the faster you go in the game. Initial titles built for the bike, which is wireless and can fold-up when not in use, include horseback riding, flying or driving a race car. You can lean your head with a wired headset to steer.
VirZOOM is marketing the device as a game controller that keeps you exercising rather than an exercise bike with a game controller tacked on. I asked Spencer Honeyman, director of business development at VirZOOM, why biking isn’t one of the announced games. The answer: “We wanted to make games that allow you to do things in VR that you can’t do in the real world. We didn’t want to mimic a bike sim similar to what fitness companies do- we wanted to be the ultimate locomotion based VR controller.”
The bike is expected to ship in the first half of 2016 in time to be combined with the first consumer wired headsets. Five games are included with the bike as well as a month subscription to a service that includes online multiplayer and fitness tracking. It costs $10 per month thereafter.
I haven’t tried out the bike but it sounds like an intriguing idea. An exercise bike combined with a VR headset is a pretty obvious idea but how well VirZOOM executed the idea will be key to how often people use it. The planned multiplayer features have a lot of potential to keep people interested in doing better, both against themselves and others.
Another video shows some of the gameplay:
And this video gives a tour of the hardware:
Tagged with: VirZOOM