Pedaling a stationary bike is kind of a sad metaphor for life: try as you may, you’re never going anywhere. But thanks to virtual reality, there might be an exercise machine coming to your local gym or arcade that promises to gamify what many people not only find to be an existential commentary on their personal failings, but also a painfully boring experience. VirZOOM, makers of VR arcade exercise games and the VirZOOM Bike Controller, recently announced a partnership with AMD that promises to provide the graphical horsepower to drive VirZOOM experiences in gyms and arcades, bringing their collection of VR games to gym-quality upright and recumbent bikes around the world.
VirZOOM (pronounced ver-ZOOM) has created a collection of VR sports games designed to combine strategy, coordination, and fitness. The software itself can be downloaded at home for free, as it supports Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR headsets (with Gear VR coming later), but the company’s proprietary VirZOOM Bike Controller, an integral piece of kit, costs a little under $400—available at VirZOOM, Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop, Target, and Walmart.
While the compact bike is designed for in-home use, VirZOOM is branching out further by retrofitting their VR games suite to gym-quality equipment across the Discover Series Life Fitness SE3 fitness bike line, making VR fitness that much more affordable considering the cost of a gaming PC, VR headset and a special exercise bike.
“Virtual reality brings new excitement to traditional fitness equipment. One of our goals is to continuously enhance the immersive exercise experience on our premium products. Combining the interactive and engaging VR experience with the performance and durability of our Life Fitness products is an example of two innovative technologies coming together. Exercisers forget that they are working out because they are so in tune with what’s going on in the game, it’s been pretty fun to see. We want to continue finding new ways to keep people engaged and moving, and partnering with VirZOOM is a testament to that,” said Amad Amin, Life Fitness product director of digital experience.
The setup will use small form factor PC’s created by AMD to go along with HTC Vive VR headsets. Besides their partnerships with Life Fitness, HTC, and AMD, ViRZOOM is also partnered with Fitbit, providing integration into the app so you can keep an eye on your distance pedaled, workout duration, heart rate, and calories burned—all automatically patched into the Fitbit app on your phone.
Games include multiplayer games like traditional cycling, horse racing, F1 racing, tank battles, and even flying on the back of a pegasus. Competitive and cooperative matches can be played by up to 8 players, including head-to-head challenges and time attacks. To further gameify fitness, you can choose your own workout and goals while collecting coins along the way to upgrade your avatar.
“Partners like AMD, HTC and Life Fitness have been instrumental in making our vision of VR exercise games in a gym setting a commercial reality. The AMD and Radeon teams have gone above and beyond to create a powerful PC experience for high-end virtual reality suitable for a commercial gym environment,” said CEO Eric Janszen.
VirZOOM was founded in early 2015 by Eric Janszen and Eric Malafeew in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since coming out of stealth, the company has raised over $4M in their first seed round from 3 investors.
For more info in upcoming locations, visit VirZOOM.