Exercising in a virtual world

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 9:47 PM | 0 comments »

Imagine cycling through the countryside without leaving the confines of your loungeroom.

Welcome to virtual exercise.

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology have designed an IT gaming program which coupled with a stationary exercise bike takes the boredom out of getting fit.

The specially designed system uses two Nintendo Wii remote controls - one attached to the rider's leg, and another receiving a signal from an infra-red light on the rider's helmet.

The signal controls the "virtual setting", providing users with the feeling of cycling through the backdrop of their choice.

Researcher Gavin Jones said while we know we should be exercising, many of us aren't doing it because it isn't fun.

"We all do it, well at least we all should be doing it, but spending 30 minutes on the bike at the gym or in your own home is not really that fun," Mr Jones said.

"What we have done is develop a system that takes you on a new and exciting journey in virtual exercise.

"We have also incorporated sound effects, making this a totally immersive and engaging experience."

Mr Jones, who worked on the system with fellow IT students, believes the prototype fitness system could easily find itself in gyms around the country.

"The gyms have the music channel on, but it's kind of boring just watching TV, but if you're exercising the mind you kind of don't realise you're exercising," he said.

"You could use it on a treadmill, rowing machine or exercise bike like we have ... it's achievable because it is relatively cheap to do and easy to use on any piece of exercise equipment."

The team hope to take the system one step further by displaying the images using video goggles, instead of projected onto a screen, providing a full virtual experience.

"Using a large projector is all we could do at the moment, but it would be much better to have the goggles on, so as you look around you see it," Mr Jones said.

Users could also develop their own virtual worlds and circuits to ride through.

"There could even be an online community where people share their maps out to others, and could go riding through their 'towns'," he added.

The fitness system could also display the user's individual workout progress, keeping track of distance, heart rate, speed and time.

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