Exercise bike + speed controlled video feasible?

Ambitious first post from a complete noob, but I like to aim high And if it's not feasible by me, I wouldn't mind if someone else takes the idea. Gets it done, gets it right, commercializes it, w/e. I'd be happy.

I know there are setups that put tvs and computer screens on stationary exercise machines, but I haven't heard of or seen any that interact with your speed.

Imagine, like a racing videogame, that as you're cycling away on your stationary bike, you're on a racetrack, or any other precrafted map. As you accelerate, you accelerate as well in the video. If you're cycling really hard, you get the illusion that you're moving quickly through space. If you slow and stop, the video will also slow and stop.

The effect is similar to as if you were outside: moving through the landscape at your own pace. However, you could go further: you could ride on tracks inaccessible in real life, such as the rails of a roller coaster (Ever see those roller coaster 'simulations' at arcades?) or a simulation of the Star Wars Endor chase. The reality doesn't have to be 1:1 - going 15 mph on the bike can mean going 50 mph on a jetski or something.

I know this is possible - but whether someone who knows nothing about arduino can even get past the concept is different.

In theory, all I need is a way to measure the speed, and a way to tell a program on a computer to play a video at a certain speed (or more ambitiously, take a 3D environment and program that)

If that's beyond my league for me, well by all means give it a try, I'd like to see the results.

Yes, someone has done it but I don't know where the posts. It's very easy to find speed of an exercise bike with a magnet and Hall Effect switch to sense the magnet. Then arduino can calculate speed of the bike and relays that to a computer, where you can use software like flash or Processing to analyze the speed and render the video accordingly.

If you have no experience programming the PC side, this is not going to be easy.

You should attack this in a modular fashion.

First figure out how you can detect the speed of the bike, like Liudr posted, a Hall effect sensor and a magnet on either the wheel or the pedal of the bike can be used for that. This setup has been used by many others so you should be able to find info in the forum.

Then from the rpm calculate speed.

Then figure out how to control the playback speed of the video. Processing is probably a good starting point here. Under all circumstances you will need to do it in a programming environment that can read data from a serial port, because that is how you can get the bikes speed from Arduino to the PC.

You may want to check out http://www.racermateinc.com/computrainer.asp Trust me, their software/hardware can make you rue the day you thought a computer controlled exercise bike was a good idea! L'alpe d'huez in your basement....not as cool as it sounds!


Not sure if you've already found what you're looking for, but the results of my exercise bike / Arduino project back in February pretty closely approximates what you're describing. I don't have a 3D environment, but I do have an interface to VLC Media Player that allows you to change video speed pending RPMs reads from a sensor.