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Using Virtual Reality to Make Users Want to Exercise

2018-4-14

Businesses are finding more uses for Virtual Reality (VR) as the technology develops.

VR is no longer only for gaming or enjoyment. An American company called Blue Goji is using VR to improve one’s health by making exercise more fun.

Blue Goji has offices in Austin, the capital of Texas. The company demonstrated its cardiovascular workout machine, called the Infinity treadmill, at the recent South by Southwest festival. The event is held every year in Austin.

A person using the treadmill wears a virtual reality headset when exercising. Before starting, the user is connected to a belt to prevent falls. Then, the user plays a VR game while running on the machine. The game can transport the user into the virtual world, where he or she can be racing against virtual people.

The cost of the hardware and computer software program is $12,000. That is a lot of money for most people. But Kyra Constam of Blue Goji says the virtual reality treadmill is ideal for places where people go to exercise, like a high-end gymnasium or recreation center. She added that people seeking treatment at physical therapy or rehabilitation centers would find the equipment useful.

Recently, Leonardo Mattiazzi tested the Infinity treadmill. Mattiazzi said he had a strong feeling to actually get running and do something that pushed his limits. He said the experience was more interesting than running inside the gym without actually going anywhere.

Motion sickness less likely

Constam said the active use of virtual reality helps solve a common problem while wearing a VR headset. She noted that a lot of VR experiences cause motion sickness because people are in motion during the game, but not moving in real life. But when the user is moving on the treadmill and in the game, the chances of motion sickness are reduced, she said.

However, users who tested the treadmill while wearing the VR headset each had a different experience. It took Leonardo Mattiazzi 10 seconds to set the controls to running in the virtual world.

VR learning curve

Kyra Constam said there generally is a learning curve for VR. The first time users feel lost, but “the more you do it, the more you get used to it,” she said.

Mark Sackler was a first time user. He said he felt a little sick at one point during the game. But he thought the experience was surprisingly realistic.

After carefully studying the users’ experiences, Blue Goji plans to begin selling the Infinity treadmill to the public in 2019.

VOA’s Elizabeth Lee reported on this story from Texas. Xiaotong Zhou adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

virtual adj. involving computer programs or the internet

hardware – n. the electronic equipment and other physical parts of a device

belt n. a piece of material worn or tied around a person’s waist

learning curven. the time it takes to learn a new skill

therapy – n. treatment for a physical or other disorder

rehabilitation – n. the process of repairing a physical disability