Wednesday 13 December 2017

Programmer uses app to cycle length of Britain in virtual reality

Aaron Puzey on his exercise bike at home in Monifieth, near Dundee (Robert PerryImage/PA Wire)
Aaron Puzey on his exercise bike at home in Monifieth, near Dundee (Robert PerryImage/PA Wire)

A games programmer is believed to be the first person to cycle the entire length of Britain in virtual reality (VR).

Aaron Puzey, 44, developed a smartphone app to turn Google Street View into a virtual reality cycling environment.

Using the technology, he recently completed the 900-mile (1,500km) journey from Land's End to John o' Groats on an exercise bike without leaving his living room.

Over the course of his 85-hour trip, which began in May and ended on January 13, he estimates he burned more than 50,000 calories, passed four horse and carts and witnessed one fight.

Mr Puzey, who is originally from Australia but now lives in Monifieth, Angus, said: "I don't really like exercise, I find it boring. I only do it because I know it's good for me.

"I've been doing a little bit of cycling every day after work for years but I got sick of staring at the same blank wall all the time.

"I'd been thinking about using virtual reality for a while and then it suddenly occurred to me that Google Street View is a great way of seeing the other parts of the world without having to actually go there.

"Becoming the first person to cycle from Land's End to John o' Groats in virtual reality is hugely exciting and feels like a great achievement."

His custom set-up, known as CycleVR, uses a Bluetooth cadence monitor, a VR headset and his normal Android phone.

The app downloads Google Street View data and turns it into a 3D scene which is displayed on the headset.

Mr Puzey, who works as a programmer for a game developer in Dundee, is now looking for a business partner or investor to bring CycleVR into other people's living-rooms.

He is currently planning his next VR trip and is considering exploring Japan.

Press Association

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