No one needs to tell us anything that makes exercise more interesting is a good thing. Time to banish the vacant stares and wandering minds at the gym with a new app that turns your iPad or iPhone into a virtual tour of scenic locations.
The Virtual Active app measures your speed on an exercise bike, treadmill or elliptical by measuring the vibration of your machine. Once you download the app you just put your device on the machine, and off you go. An accelerometer tracks your pace and translates it into the speed you zip through the videos.
While Virtual Active is free to download, you do purchase the videos — ranging from the Alps, the streets of Venice, the Grand Canyon and more. They don't come cheap at eight dollars each, and they are space hogs requiring around 800MB for a half-hour video.
The whole thing started as Project Excite when an industrious hacker hooked up his exercycle to his Xbox 360. The rest is history as it evolved into the Virtual Active app.
BitGym provides the technology behind the videos, and is planning to expand the concept into games and other entertainment around the concept of exercise propelled interactivity. They list plans for Fit Freeway, which will use the accelerometer to control speed and head movement tracking to steer.
For those of us who can't walk and chew gum at the same time it may provide some challenges, though we're probably the minority in gaming circles. But, in principle anything with the potential to motivate gamers to exercise and let them get their game on at the same time sounds pretty freakin' clever.