New Bike Simulator Makes it Amusingly Fun to Exercise

We joined Activetainment‘s Norway launch of their new B\01 Bike in Oslo earlier this month. The new bike is a part of the training concept named ebove which is:

a unique training concept that combines exercise and gaming.

Activetainment strives to make indoor exercise more like outdoor exercise, with both visual and motional features. The company claims that they deliver the most engaging, entertaining and realistic indoor exercise experience in the world. The only way to test their claim was to try a few of the bikes ourselves and interview one of the founders.



Interview with co-founder Jan Arild Svello from Activetainment

Who started Activetainment?

My classmates, Jørgen Østby Damslora and Sondre Fossum, and I met the inventor of the technology, Ziad Badarneh, during a school course. We immediately saw that this idea could become the next big thing within the fitness industry and consequently formed Activetainment with Ziad in 2012.

We have a genuine desire to make indoor exercise more fun than it currently is by using elements from gaming and gamification. We created bike simulators that move like outdoor bikes in line with what you see on the screen. The combination of hardware and software that we created was brand new.

Have you been working on the project full time since 2012?

Yes, we have. The first year we all worked “pro-bono” and we had to find the cheapest food products to cope. But all entrepreneurs know about that entrepreneurial stage. Then we succeeded to raise funds from private investors which made it possible to develop our prototypes in cooperation with our production partner in Asia.

Tell me more about your VR-concept

Virtual reality is something that we wanted early on for our bikes. As standard, they are equipped with a touchscreen where you see the track you are exercising on, but with VR you can get a different and more real experience. We want our bikes to be able to utilize all new technology that can improve the experience. When we used VR on our bikes for first time, we understood that this was the future.

Everyone that tries this their first time, gets an ‘out of body experience’. You’ll experience real fear and adrenaline, and that is something we’re pretty proud of.

What has been most difficult with your startup?

It takes time! It always takes longer time than you expect. The product development has given us a few challenges as well. The fun starts now as we are able to finally sell our products.

How many have you sold?

After showcasing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year we got almost 200 consumer inquiries, but we weren’t able to start taking orders at that time. We have now just opened up for orders and we have already sold 15 bikes.

How much does a bike cost?

We have an introductory offer, where you can get the whole set-up and a special edition design for $4600. The normal sale price will be between $6000 to $8000. We will mainly target businesses like hotels and gyms first though.

Have you had multiple funding rounds?

Yes, we have. Our investors are private persons that we know through our own network, and they have invested in us through multiple rounds. We haven’t chosen to go after venture capital yet since we have managed to fund the startup ourselves. Now, since we have started to sell our product, we want to become sustainable as fast as possible.

What is next year’s goal?

We want to sell and ship bikes and establish new partnerships for our distribution. In the coming years we also want to change our focus from hardware to software and open up for 3rd-party developers to contribute.

What software are you using?

We are using Unity as our game platform and Linux as our operative system.

Review of Activetainment’s ebove B/01

The B\01 Bike made me sweat after just a few minutes on it. I wasn’t pedaling that fast, but the energy I used to try and stay balanced was more than enough to make me burn some fat. As this was my first time trying the bike I believe it will become easier to stay balanced the next time around and get some real pedaling action.

I tried both their virtual reality connected bike and a bike with a lcd-screen attached to the steering (one of their newer models). The VR-bike gave me the most challenge and felt most real. However, since this was the first time I’ve ever tried a VR-concept, I struggled with maintaining balance on the bike. I swayed heaviliy from side to side the first five minutes on the bike but after a while I got more comfortable.

I can say that I’ve never had so much fun on an indoor bike before, and it may even beat the outdoor experience – as I love both the gaming and technology aspect of the concept. I can imagine this will become a huge success when you are able to gather your friends to an online bike competition.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that will happen anytime soon for the “average joe” as the price of $4600 to $8000 is too expensive for the mass market. But I believe that fitness gyms and high class hotels will fight over these bikes

Images by Jonas Borchgrevink @Hacked.

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