HoloBike aims to put indoor cyclists right in the glasses-free 3D action

HoloBike aims to put indoor cyclists right in the glasses-free 3D action
By: New Atlas Posted On: May 23, 2024 View: 24

Indoor cycling could soon be getting a lot more appealing. The HoloBike system combines a stationary bike with an immersive, interactive 3D holographic display … and it doesn't require riders to wear cumbersome VR helmets or glasses.

First of all, there are already platforms such as Zwift and Bkool which allow indoor cyclists to ride along virtual roads or trails displayed on their laptop, tablet or TV. That said, the passing scenery is quite obviously computer animation being viewed on a screen.

Platforms like VRide and BitGym take a somewhat different approach, utilizing first-person video footage of actual riding routes which speeds up and slows down in sync with the user's pedaling speed. Again, though, the whole thing boils down to looking at a flat display.

California-based startup Saga Holographic has set out to offer a more immersive alternative in the form of HoloBike, which is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign.

HoloBike accommodates a height range of 4'11" (150 cm) up to 6'4" (193 cm)
HoloBike accommodates a height range of 4'11" (150 cm) up to 6'4" (193 cm)

Saga Holographic

Invented by cyclist and former Google VR researcher Samuel Matson, the system is based around a belt-drive stationary bike equipped with a 27-inch 4K LCD video screen. That screen is covered with a thin sheet of micro-lenses, which essentially chop the image into a series of narrow vertical slabs.

The result is what's known as a stereoscopic light field display, which produces a 3D effect without the use of special eyewear. When a person views the array of microlenses from different angles, the perspective of the displayed image shifts accordingly.

Therefore, as the HoloBike rider's two eyes simultaneously take in the shifting perspective of the passing images, the person perceives themselves as moving forward through three-dimensional space (or at least, that's what Saga says). Boosting the immersive effect further, an infrared depth-sensing camera in the screen continuously tracks the rider's body position, causing the perspective of the images to also shift electronically.

All of the routes are based on 3D volumetric scans of real-world trails
All of the routes are based on 3D volumetric scans of real-world trails

Saga Holographic

The system's first-person riding-route visuals are being created by performing 3D volumetric scans of actual roads and trails in various locations around the world. In other words, they're not just CGI that's made from scratch, plus they contain more information than plain ol' 2D real-world video footage. We're told that five to six routes of 20 to 25 miles each (32 to 40 km) should be available when the system ships, with additional routes continually being added thereafter.

And in an added touch of realism, the electromagnetic resistance of the bike's flywheel increases as onscreen hills are being climbed, and decreases as those hills are being descended. The resistance also changes in response to virtual gear-shifting, which is performed using buttons on the handlebars.

Assuming HoloBike reaches production, a pledge of US$2,599 will get you a setup of your own. The planned retail price is $2,999. You can see the system in use, in the video below.

HoloBike — Enhancing fitness with holograms

Sources: Kickstarter, Saga Holographic

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