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  • Sport Parks and Leisure

The indoor gaming bike that only lets you play if you pedal!

Norwegian startup Play Pulse is preparing to launch its indoor gaming bike in April 2023.

The concept features integrated game controllers (which also track heart rate), custom-made games, streaming services and workouts that only function if the user is pedalling. The team are currently still taking pre-orders for the US, UK, Canada, Nordics and the Netherlands.

The concept was born through a meeting of minds – and a vision for a gaming-centric exercise bike – from co-founders Stian Weie and Kristoffer Hagen during their master’s thesis in computer science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). They partnered with CEO Erling Magnus and developed a product, which, after thousands of hours and testing, is now being sold in private and commercial settings.

Whilst initially designed for at-home use – it has a length of 44” (111cm) and width of 21” (54cm) – the company has also identified a market across the gym, youth club, school, hospital and corporate wellness sectors. They are in the process of speaking to distributors across the US and Europe for rollout in these areas and have already sold into youth clubs and hospitals in Norway.

Four custom-built games are included, including Helios, where you must avoid obstacles in a spaceship, and Pedal Tanks, a multiplayer survival game, which are operated through high-precision pedal sensors. These integrate the motion of the pedals with the user’s in-game movement. Games, workouts and streaming services are displayed on a 24” screen.

Streaming partners include Netflix, YouTube, twitch, Prime Video, Hulu and HBO. The workout programmes are flexible – such as being time or calorie focused – depending on the user’s goal, and a variety of training, from intervals to pace or resistance is offered. Rewards, such as badges, help to engage and keep up motivation, as does the progress tracker.

The team designed the games to be complex enough to keep people engaged, but easy enough to understand and play.

“This is a concept we strive to achieve in most, if not all, of our games,” said Hagen. “Easy to play, but hard to master, with optional complexity there to explore – never as a requirement to succeed – for people who want more.”

Gamification in the fitness industry is expected to continue to increase in popularity in line with the rapid growth of the gaming industry. A PwC report estimated that the gaming industry will increase its value to US$321bn by 2026, from US$120bn in 2017, with the greatest rise in social and casual gaming – a sub-sector worth US$67bn in 2017 but predicted to be US$242bn in three years’ time.

At the moment, Play Pulse bikes can be purchased on pre-order for £1,599 (US$1,980) – the standard price is £2,499 (US$3,094) – with a subscription to the platform for US$19.99 per month.

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