Cycling Virtual Reality

WideRun VR lets you bike through any world while staying put

There’s nothing like a long, challenging bike ride on a crisp day surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life or the lush landscapes of nature. Granted, this is only true so long as there’s no rain, sleet, snow or extremely cold temperatures. Put simply, inclement weather is a cyclist’s biggest enemy, often leading to missed opportunities for both pleasure and fitness.

WideRun’s marriage of both cycling and virtual reality eliminates the tedium of stationary biking, offering eager cyclists a chance to ride in diverse environments when they’re forced to stay indoors. Of course, the biggest challenge with all VR experiences is achieving a suitable level of immersion. WideRun’s system accomplishes this by employing a bike trainer engineered to apply pedal resistance and let cyclists turn their handlebars; these two variables are essential in convincing riders that they’re riding the Great Wall of China or through an abandoned, zombie-infested city.

While WideRun is compatible with any bike, it is currently only compatible with the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and smart TVs (for those who don’t have access to a VR headset). No matter which route a cyclist chooses to take, WideRun must be connected to a smartphone or PC. In exchange, the software lets users check their performance, ride with community members, and challenge other riders as a means to keep things interesting.

The full system can be had for $446 with an expected ship date of April 2016. The campaign is looking for $44,475 in funding by May 2, 2015.

While WideRun claims its pedal resistance can successfully mirror the feeling of riding uphill, it may not do enough. Because the system lacks the means to transmit other types of feedback — like bumps in the road or uneven paths — the fullness of the experience might be compromised. Still, the product is very well thought out, sporting similarities to the VirtuixOmni.

Cell Phone Accessories Virtual Reality

Get comfy with the Viewbox neoprene virtual reality headset

If it wasn’t already apparent, virtual reality, or VR, is here to stay. Events like Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift prove exactly that. As such, the future is one where both augmented and virtual reality will be as commonplace as the smartphones and tablets are in our lives now. For now, though, the industry is still in its infancy.

Currently, the most inexpensive and popular route to a full VR experience is with the use of smartphones alongside headsets designed to facilitate a user’s experience, with Google Cardboard being the most popular example. Company evomade has taken up a notch by creating the Viewbox, a product remarkably similar to Cardboard but with minor differences that end up making all the difference.

Instead of being made from cardboard, the Viewbox is made of soft neoprene which allows it to fold up and be easily transported from one location to the next. In addition, the material makes wearing the product comfortable even with glasses on, and ventilation holes prevent moisture and fog to build up within the viewing area. The kr350 (~$45) product is expected to ship in April of 2015 with a successful campaign goal of kr80,000 (~$10,197).

Although users can easily create their own VR headset, the Viewbox is a very streamlined and low-key way to enjoy a wide variety of VR apps already available now, and the fact that it works with smartphones with screens as big as 5.7″ ensures many can use it. The AirVR looks kind of wacky to wear practically, while the Samsung Gear VR offers a similar experience to the Viewbox, but with a steep premium and bulkier design.