A Kickstarter project called Widerun that lets you bike ride through virtual environments has reached over 20% of its goal in the past couple of days. Since March 18, so far it has reached over $10,000 of its $45,000 goal. With some more peddling over the next 40 or so days, it can definitely make it.
To accomplish virtual reality bike riding, Widerun uses the Oculus Rift and other mobile VR display systems like Samsung Gear VR and smartphones that can run VR displays. They work in tandem with a standard mechanical bike trainer you connect to the rear wheel of your bike and the bike’s steering mechanism. Then you use a Widerun app to load VR road trips and interactive, game-like experiences into the VR headset and the bike trainer’s mechanics make you feel like your legs encounter resistance, giving you the feeling of going uphill and downhill. The trainer sends the speed and acceleration of your bike wheel to the VR software in real-time so everything between the virtual reality and the physical world feels seamless.
"Like most people, we find indoor training uninspiring!Both in the gym and in the basement, cycling while staring at a wall is monotonous and requires no engagement with your physical environment," the Kickstarter page reads. "A VR cycling trainer can change indoor training into a varied and stimulating experience by providing a great combination of immersive VR courses, videogame type challenges and social interconnection and interaction."
Widerun hopes to get other VR software developers on board by providing SDK kits to backers who pledge money to the project.
Once the Kickstarter hits its goal and the project is complete, the Widerun trainer will sell for £300 or about $450 U.S dollars.
The Widerun sounds like an interesting concept, but why not just go outside and ride a bicycle around? Although, perhaps that option isn’t possible for those in cities without appropriate trails and areas to bike around, plus the gameification aspect could be attractive to training and fitness junkies. Still, Widerun will need to fix the motion sickness problem that has permeated the rising VR scene.