VR Cycling: Will Real Cycling Lose Out to Virtual Reality Anytime Soon?

In a recent interview, film director James Cameron was asked whether he felt a Terminator movie was still relevant today. He answered, “look around any restaurant or airport lounge and tell me the machines haven’t won when every human you see is enslaved to their device.”

It is fair to say that technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the past decade. Ideas that were once only a plot device in science fiction films, are now prototypes for use in the real world.

Take the film Tron, for example. How many people thought it would be cool to ride a virtual reality (VR) computer bicycle? Now you can, and not only ride a computer bike, but ride one that can replicate the experience of cycling.

VR Cycling

Companies like Cyculus have combined virtual reality technology with a rig to recreate the feeling of off-road cycling.

The site explains that “the feedback system is paired with a virtual world run on the Oculus Rift VR Headset. By passing data back and forth between sensors on the bike and the ingame engine, we can provide the user inputs to the virtual world. This allows us to mimic the virtual wheel resistance and pitch of the vehicle on the real system.”

In short, Cyculus have brought the great outdoors to anywhere indoors near a plug socket.

To get a clearer idea of the whole cycling experience, VR experts ROAD TO VR tested the simulation. The first thing the reviewer noticed was that the bike felt realistic when going up and down hills. He could also feel the difference as the wheels went over stones and branches.

When the reviewer had finished with the simulation, he asked himself if he had really been biking. Did it count that he attempted jumps that he wouldn’t have the courage or skill to do in real life?

The conclusion he came to was that it couldn’t compare. However, interestingly he did believe he had learnt some useful information that could aid him if he went cycling in real life.

Fitness Technology

In hindsight, technology has become a huge part of fitness. Look at any runner in the park and they are wearing equipment on their wrist that a decade ago would have only been available to the sporting elite.

Technology is even in use to raise public interest in certain sports. Aside from marketing various popular gaming franchises, UK-based gaming website Slingo is an example of this. Users can play dedicated sports titles such as tennis game Centre Court, which appeals to a certain demographic.

There are also reports that virtual soccer tournaments, using popular games such as FIFA, are pulling in millions of viewers to watch other people play. Once upon a time, sports had to only compete with the TV. Now they have to battle it out with computer programs that replicate them or present them in different mediums.

Luckily for cycling, the consensus between cycling enthusiasts seems to be that real experience is almost impossible to replicate accurately. You cannot match the skill and work ethic which you require to become a confident rider by using a VR cycling program.

However, looking on the bright side of life, VR cycling programs such as Cyculus could encourage more people to have an interest in this outdoor venture. Otherwise we have to accept James Cameron’s advice that the machines really have taken over.

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