Exercise Bike the Entire Length of Great Britain in VR! #VirtualReality


This is, in a word, amazing! ‘Cycle VR’ is a project by Aaron Puzey where he is cycling the entire length of Great Britain – from Land’s End in Sennen, England to John O’Groats in Scotland – all without leaving the comfort of his home! He’s using a Gear VR unit and Google Street View to map and also record-and-share his journey. Some videos from his diary are below; at 3 months into his journey he’s currently just under halfway along the route.

There isn’t a commercial solution for what I’m trying to do so I’ve created my own VR app using Unity.

I want the experience to be as close to real life as possible so I’m using Google StreetView data for this. Unfortunately this data is only captured every 4 meters or so but I want to be able to move smoothly through the world rather than in large steps. A single StreetView Panorama (Google’s name for the picture data at a given location) is recreated as a sphere around the viewer. I could move smoothly through that sphere from one Panorama to the next but the more I deviate from the center the more obvious it becomes that I’m just inside a sphere and not really surrounded by proper shapes. What I really needed was depth information to recreate the scene correctly. I was aware some simple depth was available from experience using StreetView: as I move the cursor over the scene a rectangle will appear in the correct size and shape depending on what I’m hovering over. After some searching I came across StreetView Explorer by Paul Wagener (which is based on the work by tbd)

08/05/2016 First run went smoothly. No noticeable nausea. Some goggle fogging at various points. Quite puffed after no exercise for so long. I didn’t look at where I would be travelling to before hand so couldn’t describe the road or direction I was travelling in. I’ll need to research each leg in future.

I’ve increased my session length to 16km or roughly 1 hour and as expected it didn’t make it all the way to the end without crashing. I’m going to have to fix this now. Saw some lovely houses and villages along the way though.

The second half of my journey across Manchester. Man this place is big. Actually I only managed to do half my normal cycle time. Had some difficulties loading in the second lot of data.

Read more.

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