Fitness for Gamers?!!

For CycleFX, combining exercise with gaming is like coasting down a hill.

Last year at E3, I had the distinct pleasure of finding a booth run by a company called CycleFX and meeting its president Neil Nusbaum. He showed me an excercise bike interface that was designed to feed data into a PC where some analysis software would take it and tell you how you did.

I said right then and there, "Neil, you have to adapt this interface to racing games." This year at E3, I was very pleased to see that he had taken my words to heart, and was showing off his new device, the GameRider, which interfaces an exercise bike with a Sony PlayStation, and allows you to use the bike to play racing games.

This was just what the doctor ordered. I played a motorcycle racing game with it and when I was done, I didn't even realize how much time had passed, and how much of a workout I really had gotten.

But where would a family put as large a device as the GameRider and its bike? Would this encourage more gamers to exercise?

Recently GiN spoke again with Neil Nusbaum, still the President and CEO of CycleFX. He pedaled us some information on his company, his new GameRider interface, and the state of health of the gameplayer community.

CycleFX –

GiN: Tell us a bit a bout your company.

Nusbaum: CycleFX is an offshoot of Hollywood Engineering, Inc., which has been manufacturing cycling and fitness related products for over 25 years, including the Hollywood Racks bicycle carrier line. We introduced our first CycleFX product, the ITS, a PC-based athletic training system in 1999.

GiN: When did you get the idea to convert your cycle interface technology to let people play games?

Nusbaum: At the E3 Show in 2000, I spoke with people like you who suggested that I develop a product for the gaming industry. Two weeks after the Show, we were in R&D. My company has been in business since 1973 and one of our strengths is recognizing opportunities and moving fast.

GiN: Why did you choose the Sony Playstation as your first console to interface with?

Nusbaum: I chose the Sony PlayStation because it was the most popular console and had the best racing games.

GiN: Are you concerned that people might not want to put an exercise bike in the way of the TV in the living room?

Nusbaum: CycleFX products can be used in a family room, bedroom, home gym or the living room. Research indicates that households with two consoles will be the norm, not the exception, in which case the home may have a console in the living room and another room.

GiN: What other console platforms are you planning to interface with?

Nusbaum: Hopefully, we will interface with the Xbox and Gamecube soon.

GiN: What about other exercise machine interfaces, such as with a cross-country ski machine?

Nusbaum: This technology works best with vehicles that require a steering mechanism. Plus, I am partial to bicycles because I’ve been in the cycling industry for nearly 30 years. However, we are always open to new ideas.

GiN: Even if the Game Rider is the phenomenal success I predict it to be, will you still produce the exercise software that got you started?

Nusbaum: We have a core customer base of triathletes and cycling enthusiasts whom we will always support.

GiN: Do you consider yourself a gamer?

Nusbaum: I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I like to play racing and sports games with my kids, especially motocross games, since I used to be very active in that sport.

GiN: Do you see the Game Rider as a way to help eliminate the largest complaint parents have about their children playing video games, that it causes them to get less exercise?

Nusbaum: Our vision is that the fun of GameRider will inspire children to play and, therefore, exercise. As a parent of three adolescents, I am concerned about the lack of exercise that our children are getting. In fact, I’ve heard that the Surgeon General of the US will unveil a program in January 2002 to combat obesity in children. We are working with a Midwest school district that has initiated a strong exercise program, which replaced a sports emphasis. The school has exercise bikes, treadmills and steppers. They believe, as we do, that GameRiders will introduce a fun element into this program. And as my son says, "It’s so much fun, you won’t even know you’re getting a workout."

GiN: How do you see technologies such as the Game Rider changing the face of the computer game industry?

Nusbaum: GameRider will add a new dimension by combining gaming with exercising. Computers and video game consoles will be used for other activities and GameRider will add the exercise element.

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