Blync puts indoor cyclists in VR worlds
While cycling is a great form of exercise, factors such as weather and work schedules keep many people from riding as often as they'd like. Kinbona Limited's Blync is designed to help, by using virtual reality tech to make indoor cycling more engaging.
Created by Canadian hardware/software designer Izuchukwu Okongwu, Blync works with a third-party stationary trainer and a third-party VR headset … oh yes, and a third-party bike. The Blync system itself consists of a VR app, a speed sensor that is mounted on the bike's rear wheel hub, and a turntable-like Path Sensor that lies on the floor, cradling the underside of the front wheel.
After selecting a virtual road or trail that they want to follow, the user just starts pedalling. The speed at which they cycle through the VR environment is determined by the wheel speed sensor. And if they should turn their bike's real-life handlebars, that movement will be detected by the Path Sensor, resulting in a corresponding turn within the VR world. What's more, stats such as distance travelled and calories burned are tracked.
Given that first-person view (FPV) virtual reality systems make some people dizzy, users can switch between FPV and third-person view modes. They can also simply not use a VR headset at all, viewing a 2D display of the virtual environment on their computer screen instead. And if they get lonely, it's possible to take part in online "group rides" with other Blync users in different locations.
For many readers, Blync will bring the existing Zwift system to mind. For the time being, though, that setup is mostly limited to 2D computer screen displays, and turning isn't possible on all of the virtual roads and trails.
Should you be interested, Blync is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of CAD$99 (about US$74) will get you a system, when and if they reach production. The setup is demonstrated in the following video.