First of all, I wanted to do something about discomfort. VR headsets were not good for exercise. So my idea was to avoid contact with a face. I wanted to test when the headset only touch around my head. Sweaty tennis players wear headbands so it must be ok for VR headset to touch the part where headbands touch.
I cut out a large plastic box bought in IKEA, and made a band.
I weighed my smartphone, and it was about 200 g, so I attached a glass object that weighed a little more than that with double-sided tape on front of the plastic band. I did a step lifting exercise for about 30 minutes with it. I was sweaty, but I didn’t really care about sweat or weight of the band. Ok. Let’s make prototype.
First, I draw rough sketches with pencils.
Drawing. The main body with two arms.
3D graphic designer made them more real.
3D printed. Body part is paper. Prototype is done.
Actually, idea of 2 arms were our second idea. 1st idea was one arm.
Heavy helmet often falls down on your face, right? It never falls backward. By attaching the arm on back side of a band should balance a weight, I thought. When I made this drawing, I thought it is such a great idea. But when 3D designer did his work, it became like this.
I laughed at my stupidity. Even if I connect it to the back side, the weight still come on forward. But this idea was not waste. In the end, the finished product became 1 arm instead of 2 arms, however, the arm is not attached on the back side but on the front side, and it become a super short. We changed description so that our patent covers both 1 and 2 arms as contactless headset, and we got it.
We also made app prototype. There is no game event. A horse runs, that’s it. But pedaling speed and horse speed correspond.
Hand made sensor prototype.
Prototype of headset, app, and sensor were done. The headset looks cheap and uncomfortable to wear, and the app is not fun to play, and the sensor is big. However, we could show real VR bike experience. They are too scruffy to show to business but that is what prototype is for. So we presented it to people we know to get their feedback. – That was good.
So what’s next? Sample production. Sample must be almost as good as real product because it will be presented to potential customers.
At first, I started work on VR headset. Since this uses plastic, it requires a mold, which is super expensive. Unfortunately, we were not in the situation that can pay so high amount for sample production. So we decided to continue using 3D printing but this time, we had to make it perfectly. We learned how to sand paper on plastic, use filler to make smooth surface, and spray several layers, etc on Youtube.
A number of failed items
Developing from 2 arms to 1 arm.
Second was sample app. In fact, we failed on this.
Game functions were great. -The speedometer is displayed for you to challenge speed record. Animals blows away when you overtaken them. A bear chases you, and if the bear take over you, it eats you up, but if you manage to run away, you will be prized. A dynamic 30-meter-long monster standing in front of you, and you have to collect items on time in order to kill it. You compete with other cars which has your historical speed data so that you can compete with yourself…
We put many game events in a short sample app. But, graphic was shabby. We expected them to evaluate a game function, but first impression was everything. If graphic is shabby , they just don’t accept it.
Good game function but scruffy graphic
Third was a sensor. It was the easiest of all. When we made prototype sensor, we put many chips in it so that the sensor could be attached everywhere. I always attached on a pedal of bike or on my ankle. For sample, we tried to omit as many chips as possible. Then we manage to have only one main chip which is 3-axis accelerometer. So the sensor became very small and succeeded to make battery life much longer than 1 year. Instead, new sensor could not be attached on pedal because pedal tilts and it gives many noise data which single chip can’t handle. So new sensor must be kept in vertical position. But it’s ok. It became so small so it easily fits in your sock.
By the way, hemVR sensor can only be used with fitness bike. It does not work well on other equipment like treadmills. We have made formula to convert pedaling speed to exerise data. So it also can be used with pedal exerciser
So, how was our sample presentation? Well, it went well. We went to head office of Golden Gym, nursing house, and different kinds of business. Graphic of app was not perfect but it gave good impact on them. So we decided for mass production. This was two years ago.
And as of 2021. The mass production of headsets and sensors is completed. FCC, RoHS, CE, and TELEC for the United States, EU, and Japan were obtained. The apps are also available on Google Play and AppStore.
Apps are not scruffy anymore. But it is not only graphic been advanced. We worked hard on motion sickness. Purpose of hemVR apps is different to other VR apps. You can stop playing other VR apps as soon as you feel motion sickness. That is ok because it is for fun. But hemVR apps are assistant of your exercise. We had to pay special care on it. For sample, we made a game screen correspond with pedaling speed, so that when they pedal faster, game screen move forward faster immediately, and when they stop pedaling the app screen also stop immediately. They had fun with it. But it is not for long time use. Many feel motion sickness when speed of game screen changes often. So we made it very “dull”.
For Eagle game, the eagle can fly freely which itself can cause motion sickness so we changed that the eagle always flapping his wings and side lines always move and the eagle never change flying speed regardless pedaling speed. For Cosmo game, you can’t move freely as an eagle can, so pedaling speed and game view correspond, but we made it very dull so that you don’t almost see it.
Well, feedback wasn’t great from some testers who have tried for first time, but all I can say is that you would know that it is good idea after while. Especially, some are very sensitive for motion sickness. But don’t worry. The hemVR apps know how you pedal. Look at time display on game screen. When you stop pedaling, then the time also stops. If you pedal very slow, then calorie consumption hardly go up. The hemVR apps are always detecting your exercise.
We are developing a new game. In this game, you can cycle together with your friend or family. Your friend takes a photo of own face and put it on avatar and play this app with you. When she looks right in distant room, her avatar also look right (look at you) in your VR screen. You and her can talk and enjoy game while pedaling together.
So far, we made 3 apps and they are single player game. They are fun and motivate you to do exercise, and unexpectedly, they even push you for extra exercise which is great. We thought that we will continue making more new single player games.
But virus changed everything. Virus made us not only move less but also made us lonely, and I noticed that social media has great help on it. We want to be connected to other people. Then I thought that hemVR can make people connected while doing exercise. I myself have parents in distant place and they just don’t move so much especially under these period. If we can make this app, I can push them to cycle with me. Talking during exercise is more relaxing than dinner table. I can look at their face, I can talk to them, and I can sweat with them, in my room. Sounds good.