A university student has designed a virtual reality exercise game with the aim of making working out more fun and engaging.
Evercycle involves wearing an HTC Vive headset and riding an exercise bike to control the game – an example of the gamifying of exercise, following on from the popularity of Pokemon GO last year.
Game designer Alex Whaley‘s worked with his supervisor at the University of Bath Christof Lutteroth – Whaley is in his final year of a computer science degree – to produce Evercycle which, can we just say, looks super fun.
“The immersion that virtual reality provides should really help distract users from physical exertion,” explained Whaley. “And the game elements should help make the activity more fun and engaging.”
He added: “The game interfaces with the bike over a serial port and using various protocols the game communicates with the bike to effectively read out rpm, and change power to provide a consistent resistive torque.
“Tilting your head left or right moves you horizontally in the game, and your RPM determines your forward speed.”
The game involves racing against a “ghost”, which is a recording of the players’ previous performance, as an incentive to do better than before – a concept often used in driving video games.
Whaley said the exercise involved is like High Intensity Interval Training sessions – using short sprint periods rather than longer extended exercise sessions, which “helps with the issue of sanitation regarding sweat and the headset”. Nice.
The 22-year-old said the project is ultimately a study into how to improve users’ exercise performance.
“Studies have shown that gamification of exercise can help reduce perceived exertion and effectively make exercising easier,” he explained.
Whaley said they hope to conduct more studies on a wider audience soon – so let’s hope one day a trip to the gym will include games like this. Even if wearing the headset could get a bit annoying when you really just want to burn those calories…