VirZoom Wants You to Get in Shape Using Virtual Reality

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Burning the Calories by working out with Virtual Reality Bike VirZOOM.

Using virtual reality, VirZoom lets you exercise while setting new gaming records. The worlds of gaming, sports, live music, commerce and adult entertainment are all primed for a revolutionary consumption shift with the advent of virtual reality (VR).

A new stationary bike from Boston startup VirZoom requires an unusual accessory while you’re pedalling: a virtual reality headset, so you can turn your workout into a virtual a VR startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which indulges you in an immersive world of video games as you trade your sweat beads while pedaling on a static bike.We have had a go ourselves on PlayStation VR and have found the technology amazing, making you feel like you’re literally living within the game world. Pedal to propel yourself through immersive games: power a horse in a race, a tank in battle, or a fire-breathing dragon through the mountains. “The VirZoom team has created a unique VR game platform that turns the stationary exercise bike inside out,” CTO Eric Malafeew said in a statement. “Rather than distracting you with a 2D screen experience, we harness the intense immersive power of VR to make you move so you get a workout without feeling like you’re working out at all.” The foldable bike is powered by you—er, your legs.

Last week, I pulled an Oculus developer headset over my eyes and settled onto the bicycle, which will retail for $250 (about Rs.16,578) when it ships next year. But there are fears that the VR push could end up being another flash-in-the-pan gimmick like 3D telly, which many now believe has died a death, and motion sensor gaming like with the original faded Wii console. “When you remember 3D TV and 3D stereoscopic gaming, every single game, or even movie, pretty much the experience was the same as playing on your regular TV except for there’s a little bit of depth inside the TV. “The relationship between the player and the TV was exactly the same and unfortunately – this was actually a technical limitation that I was personally disappointed in. “Because the tech was such that in many cases, there were compromises, or a choice where when you get the depth of 3D stereoscopic tech for games, you could lose either resolution or framerate, and that’s a huge trade-off. “In addition to pretty much the same games, only instead we were playing using 3D stereoscopic tech, we had to put up with some lost framerate or responses, or the resolution in exchange for added depth inside the TV.” He added: “Virtual-reality tech allows, for the first time in the history of games, developers to put the player inside the game, not in front of the TV outside of the game’s walls. “The other thing is that, in a lot of the cases of peripherals, either they’re tied to one game or they’re tied to one company and they aren’t really compatible with anything else, so you have one company trying to get a bunch of content made for this one device and that’s asking quite a bit of a game developer for that to happen. “We’ve tried, and in some cases have been successful, in some cases not. Virtual reality, nestled under your tree, for the low, low price of only $99 (plus the $500 Samsung smartphone you need to actually power the Gear VR headset).

With several virtual reality headsets for consumers coming out this year — including Oculus’s anticipated ‘Rift’ — excitement is growing around applications like gaming. They have some level of success. “But in this case, there are multiple platforms for VR that are occurring simultaneously, so a content developer can make things and potentially see it go across multiple platforms, and that helps them out a lot. This “VR,” dubbed “mobile VR,” relative to true VR, is like thinking of your car phone (brick phone) relative to today’s powerful smartphone.

Gear VR allows us to sit front row at an NBA Warriors game or go backstage at a Nicki Minaj concert (thanks to content from NextVR and Jaunt) — but, it is a passive experience. That includes the VirZoom machine, access to the growing portfolio of VirZoom games (starting with three to five core titles), and a lifetime subscription to VirZoom Plus, which is regularly $9.95/month. It’s like I’m Ebenezer Scrooge, floating alongside the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, through Charles Dickens’ ethereal journey in A Christmas Carol. Primarily, it will be exclusive to Oculus Rift headset, but versions are being developed currently to accommodate other gaming platforms as well, before its official release. We’ll have an install base of about 25-35 million Sony PlayStation 4s, and Sony’s VR headset, PlayStation VR, will have an avid and waiting fan base of gamers to buy it.

The platform will eventually open up to developers, but for now VirZoom is building its first five games from scratch because its team worries that the types of motion in existing games could make users sick. The VR unit that arrives in five sub-gaming unit will be available for $249.95 while making a pre-order will cost you $199.95 respectively, as a part of an early access special basis for first adopters. The VR bike will also include VirZOOM Plus’ free subscription for a month, which provides users with every content regarding data tracking for fitness purpose, access to latest VR Games, online multi-player support system, latest contents for games, and so much more. That said, Oculus, HTC and Sony have developed “true VR” — i.e., games and content that allow the user to feel truly immersed, so far as they can interact with the world and other VR users around them — a stark difference to the largely passive experience offered by mobile VR to date. While VirZoom will cost $250, buyers will also have to factor in the cost of a headset (still undetermined for the three supported ones, which are all slated for release in 2016).

It is unlikely that the miserly Ebenezer would ever consider paying the non-trivial $1,000 (or more) to buy an appropriate PC to run these advanced VR headsets. And the Vive and Rift will need to be tethered to a powerful desktop computer, while the ‘PlayStation VR’ will have to connect to a PlayStation 4. He thought it was boring and the VR environment made him feel sick because it doesn’t emulate real life physics properly (a huge problem for all VR developers). The high price point (and more technical user requirements for a PC-based headset) presents an impediment to building and scaling an audience quickly.

This means that any kind of ad-supported, free-to-play business models are a ways off; you need lots of eyeballs and players before you can make meaningful revenue as a content creator. Headsets will likely be too expensive and delicate for gymnasiums to lend out to attendees in a spin class at a gym, and I’m guessing people may not be too keen on sharing sweaty headsets — I know mine felt pretty gross when I was done with my workout.

A rich, easy-to-monetize content ecosystem, like that provided by Google and Apple on mobile, is necessary for the flywheel of content creation and consumption to spin faster and faster. In the near term, we will only see VR content funding from the headset manufacturers themselves, and from brands who see VR as a way to look cool and edgy. For example, imagine having free range of motion inside a family video replay, walking around your child’s birthday party video and seeing the looks on everyone’s faces, enjoying these memories in a whole new way. That means a design sense like that which Apple’s Jony Ive brings to technology products, making a device that is ergonomically and aesthetically beautiful.

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