Over the past few weeks, I’ve been playtesting and writing extensively on the Holodia Holofit, a subscription software service that brings your stationary bike, rowing machine, and ellipticals into virtual reality. As you can read in my Holofit full review, this is an amazing product for serious fitness enthusiasts who want to bring their heavy cardio gear into VR. I carried out rigorous playtests of both the rowing and stationary bike modes, but not owning an elliptical, and with Covid19 restrictions still in force I was unable to test that mode.
My lack of knowledge regarding elliptical machines led to me giving out some inaccurate information in my review. I understood that ellipticals, like rowing machines, lacked a suitable placement for a Bluetooth sensor, as unlike stationary bikes they aren’t pedal/wheel based, so I thought the only way to connect them would be via USB or Csafe cable directly to a PC. This would mean only PCVR headsets would be supported, and you couldn’t use ellipticals with an Oculus Quest or other mobile headset unless the elliptical had native FTMS Bluetooth support.
This turned out to be incorrect and most ellipticals are in fact compatible with a regular third party cadence sensor, the proviso being that the elliptical must be wheel based.
Whilst any cadence sensor that supports Bluetooth 4.0 should work, Holodia recommends the IGPSport C61 cadence sensor. I used this to connect Holofit to my stationary bike, and it works great, at a super affordable price. I got mine from eBay for £16 delivered.
Compatibility and Connectivity
Holodia is compatible with both PCVR and most standalone VR headsets, excluding the Oculus Go. If you are using a PCVR headset, Vive, Rift, WMR, Index, etc you will need to connect any exercise equipment directly to your computer via USB or cSafe output.
If you have a mobile headset, either a Vive Focus, Oculus Quest or Samsung Gear VR you can either connect via Bluetooth directly if your cardio machine has FTMS Bluetooth built into it, or you can attach a third-party Bluetooth cadence sensor. That’s what we’ll be looking at in this article.
Connecting your Elliptical via cadence sensor
Holodia’s Pavel Lazarević has sent me some photographs showing where to attach a Bluetooth sensor on various elliptical designs so if you’re using a mobile headset, most likely an Oculus Quest, a third party sensor should be all you need to get connected.
Hopefully, these images help to clarify where to place the sensor in order to get up and running and connect your elliptical up to your Oculus Quest, GearVR or Vive Focus.
Works with Virzoom’s VZFit too.
If you are using Virzoom’s VZFit or have been interested in its games or Explorer app, both VZFit Play and VZFit Explorer will work with an elliptical machine and a third party cadence sensor too. As an elliptical wheel generally moves much more slowly than a bike’s you will want to change the spin cycle difficulty on VZFit from 5 to 1. This will increase the speed of your elliptical by requiring fewer revolutions to move a set distance. You’ll then be able to play VZFit Play’s game and ride through Explorer at a reasonable pace.
Holofit Elliptical Mode in Action
As with the stationary bike and rowing modes, Holodia prioritizes a real sense of immersion by giving you a full-body avatar. Rowing mode places you inside a rowing boat, whilst bike mode will see you in either an upright cycle or a recumbent depending on what you’re using in the real world. This attention to detail really pulls you into the virtual environments and helps you to feel connected to what’s going on.
If you’re using an elliptical you will experience the game first-person as a runner. Obviously a real treadmill would be quite dangerous to use with a VR headset so an elliptical offers a safer substitute.
Again, Pavle has kindly sent me some screenshots and video so you can get an idea of what Holofit’s game worlds are like;
Holofit in action
Finally, Pavle has shared a 10-minute video below so you can see an environment in action. The footage, recorded on an elliptical, takes you on a leisurely jog through some Paris streets, in Explorer mode.