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I Went Mountain Biking - Virtual reality delivering multi-sensory experiences approaching: "real"

February 17, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Ben Lang / Road to VR

Not like taking a few jumps on a raked path in the woods behind my house like I used to do as a kid--I mean really mountain biking, the kind of thing you'd see on a GoPro commercial. The kind of thing that would almost certainly result in my death if I tried it without practice. Thanks to a motion bike and a VR headset, I got to taste the thrill without the risk. But can I really say "I went mountain biking"?


First, let's talk about the setup. I was riding Activetainment's B\01 bike which actuates forward and backward based on incline and has pedals, gears, and software-controlled resistance, meaning it can make it hard to pedal as I'm going uphill and easy when going downhill, you know... like a real bike. You can also lean left and right into turns... as you would on a real bike. The company teamed up with MTB Freeride, an in-development mountain biking game that's actually rather gorgeous and aims for realistic riding physics.

The other component was the Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset, which MTB Freeride supports natively. I tried the monitor-based version of the system to first get a feel for the bike and controls. Naturally, the screened experience didn't hold a candle to the world within the DK2.

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