Virtual Reality Could Help Gamers Stay Fit

Don't like to read?

virtual reality

Virtual reality may be great for gaming but there is still the very real concern that gamers are not getting any motivation to stay fit from their video games. A combination of video games and virtual reality goggles like the Oculus Rift results is an extremely immersive experience for committed gamers. Already, many gamers who have not purchased the Oculus Rift spend countless hours playing adventure and strategy games. With the introduction of virtual reality, some technology experts have warned of a future where most people will fall so deep into virtual worlds that it will be difficult to aid some of them back to reality. Others are of the extreme view that it will help establish laziness as the norm and lead to economic crises all over the world.

However, the real problem is that most video and computer game enthusiasts are usually so absorbed in their gaming that most of them do not take time to exercise or even to eat quality food. A study conducted last year by a team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) shows that certain games promote an inactive lifestyle in children and also contain content that promotes unhealthy eating habits.

The researchers looked at over 100 websites that promoted these games and found that a number of them have adverts that promote high-sugar and high-fat food products. Lorraine Weatherspoon, MSU associate professor and registered dietician, indicated that these new gaming technologies have tremendously changed how people eat and the physical activities they participate in. Virtual reality in gaming could make this problem even greater and, for this reason, gamers may find it even harder to stay fit.

However, the Virtuix Omni treadmill could solve the physical part of the problem. This treadmill, called the Omni, is used in conjunction with virtual reality goggles to make gaming even more immersive. The contraption is made up of a 360-degree disk-like treadmill that curves slightly upwards and has grooves on its core. It also has motion sensors that track a user’s movements. Users of the Omni treadmill can walk, jump and run through a game rather than watching their character on screen making these movements. That means that they cannot use the treadmill while they are seated.

According to Jan Goetgeluk, Virtuix founder, the treadmill is a healthy way to make the younger generation more physically active. So far, investors from Tekton Ventures, Maveron and others are investing a lot of money in Goetgeluk’s project. With these investments, the company may have enough resources to commercialize the Virtuix Omni treadmill. However, there are people who think that integrating virtual worlds with the Omni treadmill makes gaming very creepy. For instance, gaming arcades in the near future will be filled with goggled gamers running around on their treadmills, while shouting, pointing and making other weird movements. As much as such a scenario may look creepy, it still serves the purpose of helping gamers get fit.

Virtual reality integrated with an Omni treadmill will not only be able to help people in the gaming scene stay fit, but it can also be used in other fields. Technology experts believe that it can be very useful in fields like surgery, space exploration and so on. It has been found that gaming as a whole can actually help people improve skills they use in their various professions. Studies show that surgeons who play Nintendo Wii perform better compared to their peers. In addition, researchers from North Carolina State University have found that video games improve the emotional health of the elderly. So in the future, doctors may actually recommend treadmills integrated with virtual reality goggles to patients who want to stay fit and have fun at the same time.

By Michael Obunga

The Wall Street Journal
CBS News