It seems strange to be announcing VZFit’s launch onto the Oculus Quest store, given that thousands of Quest users have been enjoying VZFit’s clever integration of indoor stationary bikes with virtual reality for well over a year.
However, whilst VZfit’s two apps, Play and Explorer have always been exclusive to the Quest platform, they were hidden away from innocent eyes, behind the counter as it were, like cigarettes, or a smutty magazine. Oculus was concerned that the apps might be seen by someone for whom they weren’t intended. It wasn’t an age restriction, but rather a compatibility problem. In order to make use of VZFit’s otherwise outstanding apps, a VR headset wasn’t enough, you also needed to own both an indoor bike and a Bluetooth cadence sensor with which to connect it.
Today VZFit is available for download directly from the Oculus Store, courtesy of a pretty significant change. I’ll discuss that development in a second but first a brief history of Virzoom, who to my mind, more than any other company in the industry best encapsulates the rapid pace of development for technologies related to VR.
Virzoom is a software development company that had the vision to revolutionize indoor exercise by bringing indoor biking into VR. They began by building and selling their own bike, equipped with their own software to use in VR tethered to a PC. Recognizing that this is a lot of purchases for the average consumer to make, and thus a fairly large barrier to entry they sought to reduce the friction and developed instead their own VZFit Bluetooth sensor and control button that could be mounted onto any stationary bike. This was a solid start, but with the launch of the Oculus Quest, they saw a way to dispense with the need for buying a PC, and so switched their platform from PCVR to Oculus Quest. Progress made, and the adoption process was getting easier, but they were able to go further. Rather than continuing to manufacture and sell their own propriety sensor and controller button they instead worked to make their software compatible with any third-party cadence sensors and allowed the Oculus Touch controllers to manage control inputs. Now, with today’s official launch, they have removed the final piece of friction to easy consumer adoption, they’ve managed to dispense with the need for a bike at all!
You have to admire this team’s ability to adapt and respond to such a fast-changing field, and I feel like their story is reminiscent of those from the early days of the Industrial Revolution, with the rapid transformation of the cotton, pottery, and railway industries. It’s been exciting to watch their progression.
I’ve previously reviewed in detail Virzoom’s Play and Explorer apps. The former is a series of fun minigames played whilst riding a stationary bike. Fly helicopters, or a winged Pegasus, chase down bandits on horseback, hunt and destroy enemy tanks, or compete in a Grand Prix race. If you’re in the mood for some downtime then turn your bike into a pedal boat and relax on a tranquil lake feeding the fish and ducks. The Play app is a lot of fun and you can check out my VZFit Play review for more information.
VZFit Explorer was Virzoom’s second app, a 3D integration of Google Streetview that gives you the whole planet, or at least its whole road network, to cycle through. If you like cycling for exercise and discovering new places this app is an inexhaustible treasure trove for visiting exotic destinations, gawping at the stunning scenery, or even bimbling around your own neighborhood. I loved it when I first reviewed and it remains one of my most played apps, for me one of the truly essential reasons to own an Oculus Quest. It’s the continued development of this Explorer app that leads to today’s official Quest launch.
Move Your Body To Explore The World
Virzoom’s Explorer now features a standing workout mode, where you move your own body to travel through its version of Google Streetview. This isn’t some watered-down, inferior version when compared to the cycle-equipped mode either. It offers a uniquely distinct experience. Standing inside its 3D representation of Google Streetview you are more easily able to look around and it is in some ways more immersive than sitting on a bike, in the same way, that standing and room-scale VR games can be more immersive than playing seated.
The game places you on a large hoverboard, which is powered by your own movements. An optional, but strongly recommended trainer guides you through a series of exercise movements, squats, punches, knee raises star jumps, etc, and the faster and more vigorously you perform the workout, the faster your strange, alienesque craft zips along.
You can choose from the dozens of preselected routes, or create your own. With an entire planet to explore who knows where your next workout will take you.
Free 7 Day Trial then $9.99 monthly
VZFit is a monthly subscription service but don’t let that put you off downloading it. Upon trial expiry, if you decide not to renew the game defaults to a free basic version. This restricts you to one one Play game and one Explorer ride, rotated on a monthly basis. You can repeat that ride as often as you want in that month, and Virzoom matches the free rotation game to their monthly challenges so you can still take part in some monthly challenges even as a free member. if you just want to ride your bike every week or so, and enjoy the occasional standing workout then the free basic version will allow that, and still, give you some variety every few weeks.
If you do decide to purchase a subscription, well the world is big enough that you will never need to cycle or tread the same path twice, unless you want to. There’s also commercially licensed music courtesy of Feed.FM, a rewards system that allows you to earn coins to purchase accessories and personalize your character, and both Strava and Fitbit integration.
Look for a full review of the new standing mode very shortly, and you can check out our extensive past coverage of the other game modes Play and Explorer, which are still very much a feature of this official launch.
The VZFit trial is available for download from the Oculus Quest store now.