Stationary Cycling
through Google Streetview

What it is

Buzzword warning: VR environment for stationary cycling.

More usefully described, this project uses a head-mounted-display that has sensors for detection of orientation so that the user can be placed into a Google StreetView scene and can look around freely. For movement through the map, an exercise bike used to estimate forward movement using a simple reed switch that counts the number of revolutions of the wheel.

Pragmatically explained, it means that I don't have to sit in the darkness or stare at my garage door while I'm huffing away. Hopefully once this is done, I'll be able to spend a few nights a week pedalling away downstairs and work my way across the US or Australia over the course of the year. The irony of this project is, well, while it's supposed to help me entain myself while using the exercise bike, the project itself has been keeping me from exercising. Oh well.

It is also a project that I would be thrilled if someone took the idea and made a decent implementation out of it. Make it user focused and reliable and I'll be the first to use it.

What it isn't

Stable. Finished. Easy to use.

This was just borne out of a desire to scratch an itch. At this point, this itch has been scratched, however, as released project, I'd say that it's incomplete. Unfortunately, this project isn't for someone who isn't versed in linux, javascript, perl, and some arduino/electronics.


  • Tokyo Jogging - for the brilliant idea of setting up a local micro httpd that is aware of device state. As all the logic is in a single process, it strips away quite a few layers of IO.
  • VR920 drivers - Mal from the Vuzix forums and Jürgen for writing C based device drivers. I based orientation calculations off theirs. I probably would of used theirs if I didn't have so much difficulty with my particular installation. (usbhid kept grabbing the device from their code's nose)
  • Of course, the Google Street View/maps team for making such an awesome dataset available to hack on.


This code is just a proof-of-concept, when I really start using this, I suspect quite a few features will require adding, such as:

  • Preplanned routes - I do want to try and make my way across the US and Australia since they've been mapped pretty extensively
  • Bookmarking locations - come back to where I was, the next day
  • Overlays - showing where I have been where I want to go
  • Garmin Heart Rate Monitor integration - people have managed to use the ANT+ stick on linux to interface to their HRM, show the heart rate on an overlay
  • Virtual Races?

Lots to do anyways

Seeing as you're here, perhaps you'd interested in my Myvu Crystal 701 to monocular viewfinder conversion gallery?

Since people ask why I don't go lift the garage door

In the summer I was doing real road riding that totaled 200km a week. I love this form of transportation: it's at your own schedule, don't have to fight with transit, no guilt and I find it therapeutic.

For some time leading into the fall, I was using both my main bike for commutes and my wife's bike on the trainer for spinning, which helped me keep a higher revolution rate for extended periods on flat stretches. NB. I have problems walking after using the trainer, it's a proper workout. It also helped, I could tell that there was an improvement in my cruising speed.

Weather's not so pleasant now with it raining most of the time and dark. I also have to change clothing after every ride and my shoes are soaked through after the first ride. I keep an extra pair of shoes at the office but have to return to the yucky wet pair the ride home. Round trip is 2 hours that takes up times of prime productivity for me. I'd rather ride at around 9 and burn myself out for the evening.

If the researchers are correct, I don't need to go hard for a length of time, short periods of activity that add to a similar amount of time will have a similar beneficial effect for the body.

So this project helps me take away these excuses for not going out when it's too annoying to do so. It also has a really cool educational component. I'm still getting into shape but if I travel through the continent with this thing, it gives me not only a goal but an appreciation for how wide and varied this continent is. Think of it: I will have personally turned that wheel over 5000 kms at about 2 meters per revolution and spent the time looking at what every state along the way has to offer for view and ecology. All from the road, of course, but the south-western portions of BC are a rainforest with tall cedars and dense underbrush, you can see that from the roads, once I get out to the prairies or desert, it changes.


Aki is just another geek. He finds writing about himself in the third person awkward. He also works for a company called Gossamer-Threads that is filled with talented people - if you need custom code or hosting done, talk to us.