Look around the home fitness market and you will find gadgets that were taken up enthusiastically only to be discarded as their novelty wore off. Aerobic balls, treadmills, yoga mats and excercise bikes, but En-Route could keep people coming back by adopting novelty as its core strength. Using a bike attached to an indoor turbo trainer, developer James Dalton has created a neat race trainer, based on a mobile platform with readily available software and hardware.
Using footage recorded on his own GoPro camera from rides around North Yorkshire, James created road and off-road tracks that can be accessed via a smartphone on the handlebars, linked to projector images and powered through the turbo trainer. Touch OSC connects the smartphone to a Mac via MIDI, allowing the rider to choose between the different routes. An Arduino board and software from Processing provide the backbone for the turbo trainer, incorporating a read switch to detect speed in miles per hour
Eventually James will create a native smartphone application that draws in other riders to a social gaming experience, allowing people to experience one another’s adventures in an immersive setting. “I want to create my own interface rather than using Touch OSC, so that it can draw in other people’s footage and hopefully create some kind of dual screening process where the phone becomes a map and starts to give you more information,” says James.
“At the minute it has a visual and intuitive style that I want to keep, but I’d like to make it more immersive and give the user more information – technical information, maps – and more options so that if they want to look at a pro rider’s training ride they can.”
Inspiration for En-Route came from two existing projects: Rollapaluza and Red Paper Heart. Rollapaluza is a sprint cycle race on custom-built rollers between seasoned racers. Add in a few energy drinks, cheerleaders, MCs and cheering crowds and you have a digital sporting event. Red Paper Heart’s UD Cycling Classic is in a similar mould pitching cyclists together in a head to head 60 second sprint through forests, foxbears and floating orbs.
Some of James’ other projects are on his website (including a digital projection project with Newcastle City Council) but he is concentrating on developing En-Route while the summer cycling season is in full swing, getting out into the English countryside to add more footage. “My passion for cycling came initially from biking into university and I just started to enjoy it, to enjoy the freedom of it, more and more,” he says. “I liked the fact that I didn’t have to rely on anybody else. I started looking at cycling blogs and fixed gear culture to begin with, but then I progressed onto road bikes and that is pretty much all I ride now.”