VirZOOM, makers of VR arcade exercise games and the VirZOOM Bike Controller, announced the successful closure of a $5.5 million seed funding round which the company says will help expand its commercial business worldwide with a second generation of its VZ Module and VZ Sensor, a retrofitting kit for stationary bikes that turns them into VR controllers.

Investors include Skywood Capital, with personal investments from partners at Eastham Capital, Fairhaven Capital, and Equity Resource Investments. Co-Founder and CEO Eric Janszen is the largest single investor. New investors include Greycroft partner Jon Goldman through his GC VR Gaming Tracker Fund. The Tracker fund is focused on VR, AR, eSports, and game start-ups.

in-home VirZoom bike (2017), image courtesy VirZoom

VirZOOM (pronounced ver-ZOOM) started selling its VZ Arcade fitness games in June 2016. After expanding into China with the help of Chinese VR headset manufacturer 3Glasses, VirZOOM later announced in summer 2017 an expansion into the commercial gym market worldwide in a partnership with Life Fitness, the fitness equipment company.

“VirZOOM is skipping past the early adopters to bring VR to mass market customers through cardio exercise motivation. The company is making actual sales, shipping products commercially for a year and a half and forming commercial partnerships with major fitness equipment companies like Life Fitness, who can help VirZOOM scale,” said Jon Goldman, investor and founder of the GC VR Gaming Tracker Fund.

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VirZOOM’s game suite supports Gear VR, Rift, Vive, PSVR and Windows VR headsets. Games include bespoke 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.

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  • Mateusz Pawluczuk

    Ok, now retrofitting kit sounds like a great idea.

  • Muscle Man Joe

    Mandatory sweat sponge HMD addon.

  • I find Virzoom idea interesting from the beginning, but IMHO it has some issues like the enormous sweating of the player and the fact that you can’t steer with a stationary bike, so the experience of cycling may seem a bit unrealistic…

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    • josh

      exactly this wont work with headsets that are out now, and even if it did, you’re putting someone elses nasty sweaty device on your face. just not gona work.

    • Jason from VirZOOM

      Hey, VirZOOM Community Manager Jason here. The sweating is not as big a deal as you think, especially since we use removable VR Covers in the gym. And we found in testing that it’s downright terrifying to have moving handlebars when you try to steer with your eyes covered – it’s designed the way it is because this is by far the most comfortable approach we found after pretty extensive research. I hope you get a chance to give it a try sometime!

      • ender707

        I believe you when you say you tested the moving handlebars, but I am curious why it would be terrifying considering driving in VR with a moving steering wheel is not scary at all? Honestly just wondering.

        • Jason from VirZOOM

          The way it was explained to me (because I joined the company a bit after those tests), it comes down to shifting your weight and balance, and awareness of where your body is in space. A steering wheel isn’t too bad for this because your shoulders don’t really move forward or backward too much, and your back can stay pretty upright, kind of like turning by using a handheld video game controller. With hands on handlebars, if you’re already trained to ride a bicycle, you’re subconsciously used to twisting your back, shifting shoulders back and forth, and leaning into the turn. We’re working on stuff that will allow people to use their own exercise bikes with our games, but we still say not to use it with a road bike on a trainer because those studies found people WANT to lean even if they don’t realize they’re doing it, and that’s kind of dangerous and disorienting if you’re not on a super stable base.

      • Rick

        Hello Jason, any chance you will start selling the Virzoom in retail stores in the Netherlands?

        • Jason from VirZOOM

          We do have discussed international distribution plans with potential partners overseas, but the only one we have an arrangement with at present is for distribution in China. I can’t say for sure yet how other discussions will play out in time. In the meantime, we ship orders on our website directly from the US as long as the recipient will cover shipping, taxes, and duties.

      • cj

        Maybe stop making a bike simulator and make a pedaling car simulator; or a paddle boat.

        If you had a VR pedal version of Mario Kart, that would make serious money. Obviously marketing gurus will help with release timing and what not; who knows if the total VR enthusiasm has already died down too much until Oculus releases the consumer version of Santa Cruz.

  • Ken James

    I have a Virzoom, I find that the lack of seat angle adjustment a pain and not having bicycle style height adjustment for multiplayers a pain. The games graphics are often disconnect to their surrounding (ie bridge to nowhere helo game, floating grass etc.) why does the bike not have a AC power instead of eating AA bats? The Virzoom should have wheel on the back bar so when tilted it can be rolled out of the way instead of dragging on rubber pads. Details on how to set up the control for some of the popular games would have been a nice. Over all I’m having fun with it but i would have like to have a moveable handles bars then let the player decide if they want to lock the bars or not. I hate leaning.