Virtual reality is most commonly used for entertainment, like playing games or immersing yourself in a cartoon world. But as one game developer has discovered, it can also be used to improve your health.
Will Brierly is the man behind a soda drinking simulation game, "Soda Drinker Pro." The goal of the game is to guzzle virtual sodas in various areas like the beach or outer space. In real life, however, Brierly's love of soda added on the pounds.
But that's changed with the help of virtual reality.
A year ago, he started using VirZoom, a $400 stationary bike made for VR use. The bike comes with a VR game controller and is compatible with a wide range of VR devices. Customers then download the free VirZoom Arcade app, which contains a bunch of games specifically designed for the bike. One game, for example, simulates flying on the back of a Pegasus, while another is like driving an F-1 race car around a track. The more you pedal, the faster you move.
So far, using a combination of this exercise and better eating habits, he's lost 50 pounds.
"Just being in these worlds makes it so you don't think about it. You're not thinking, I have to work out. You're thinking, this is fun. Then it's over and you're like, oh, that worked!" said Brierly.
He enjoys being transported so much he's working on a game using the company's public software development kit to build his own custom world to exercise in. This world looks like an arena game show akin to the movie "The Running Man" where every five minutes the environment in the game changes.
He also says that the bike really helps cut down on a big drawback of VR: nausea.
"Say you're playing a game with a controller, maybe you're racing a car. It's the same thing that causes motion sickness when you're reading. Your body thinks you should be moving forward " said Brierly "If your body is not moving but you're moving in your mind's eye, it can make people nauseous."