Well, this had to happen sooner or later. The Expresso, a stationary cycle system marketed to fitness clubs, takes the collective hallucination of the Spinning class a few steps further. Instead of an instructor shouting about imaginary hills and turns, the Expresso offers an immersive virtual world of backroads and byways threading through fractal terrain. It also lets fitness buffs compete head-to-head against artificial aerobicists tailored to their fitness level and against other pedal-pushers in the gym or elsewhere on the net. You can save a ride and compete against your own “ghost rider”—or send your avatar to a friend to compete with at her convenience.
I’m a committed cyclist, although I prefer real roads in almost any weather to the grind of a gym. But this is pretty cool. What’s more, I’d like to see it hacked: I want a cycle-based web browser that implements workouts as searches, so I can visit sites that take the form of ranges of jagged peaks. (It would impose a healthy limit on the amount of time I spend idly surfing.)
Port the Expresso to Google Earth and I’d never have to go outside—or better yet, port it to the Moon layer so I can take a cycling tour of the Apollo landing sites. The gaming possibilities of other exercise equipment are exciting as well: how about a rowing machine that simulates a Viking longship or a Titanic lifeboat?[via Singularity Hub]