Holodia, un rameur + un visiocasque

Sport turns to virtual reality

ELSEWHERE. Imagine the wind in your hair, sailing on the smooth waters of a river in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. The boat moves slowly, driven by the oars that you operate at your own pace. You have lost barely 2000 calories since the beginning of your ride, you will have to row harder, after all you are here for that… Le ” là ” is your usual gym that recently equipped itself with a rower from the company Holodia, presented at the festival dedicated to Future innovation in the Seine (until June 19, 2016). The rower of the Parisian startup looks like any modern rower except that it is accompanied by an HTC Vive headset that the user will wear throughout his session. The set is also accompanied by a fan diffusing a slight breeze intended to perfect the illusion. The brain is fooled, and within seconds the user forgets that he is playing sports. The speed of the virtual boat is modeled on the effort made, and it is not uncommon to find ourselves at a standstill, distracted from the sporting objective by the beauty of the scenery that surrounds us. The forest is not your cup of tea ? The app features 4 environments ranging from snowy mountains to Grand canyon meanders, by the way… through the confines of the solar system ! The Parisian company is also planning an indoor bike version and an elliptical version that will allow for example to virtually walk the wall of China or on 2 wheels. In short, sports fans in the wilderness and detractors of treadmills have not finished making fun of these future sportsmen harnessed their videocasques.

Virtual coach or fashion phenomenon ?

Holodia is not the only company to want to distract the attention of athletes during the effort, Scale-I Portal, specialized in virtual reality cellars presented at Futur en Seine its immersive concept coach.

Virtual reality cave. Even if virtual reality visiocas have been talked about a lot in recent months, it is a technology that is not new. Long before the advent of oculus Rift and other HTC Vive, virtual reality was simulated in large rooms on the walls of which were projected images. The user in the middle of these cellars of images is immersed in the fictional environment. The device has its advantages such as the ability to explore virtual worlds with several simultaneously, but also its disadvantages : the installation requires a fairly large space and also a significant budget. These cellars have suffered from the arrival of visiocasques, increasingly popular with companies wishing to offer experiences simpler to set up and less expensive.

Intended for gyms, this installation offers users to carry out fitness sessions through a game of rhythm and reflex. Technically, the device consists of two projectors positioned perpendicular to each other. The first projects an animation on the floor representing the path, the second on the front wall an animation showing obstacles that drive straight at the user and that must be avoided. All this is accompanied by a Kinect camera – the motion recognition camera that accompanied Microsoft’s Xbox game console – which allows tracking the slightest movement of the user and displaying events accordingly. Designed in partnership with sports coaches, the course follows different phases that are supposed to encourage the user to perform fitness movements such as flexions, extensions or side steps. In use, and even if the device captures movements correctly, the gestures become more and more vague as the rhythm accelerates. The gamification aspect then takes over, and the user ends up making any gestures provided that the objectives are achieved. In short, in the case of the immersive coach as in that of the rower of Holodia, it is here about perfectible innovations. And tonic gym classes still have bright days ahead of them.

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