Fourth Industrial Revolution

This man is virtually cycling the length of Britain

A visitor tries out Samsung's Galaxy Gear VR at its booth in Tokyo Game Show 2014 in Makuhari, east of Tokyo September 18, 2014. About 421 companies and organizations are participating in the Tokyo Games Show 2014, which will be held until September 21. REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY BUSINESS

"I’d been daydreaming for a while about the possibility of using VR to make it a bit more fun." Image: REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Emma Luxton
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Cycling from one end of a country to the other would be a major undertaking for most people – but what if you could cover the same distance from the comfort of your own home, without missing the sights along the way?

Aaron Puzey is hoping to become the first person to cycle the length of Britain in virtual reality. He is making his virtual journey from Lands End to John O’Groats on an exercise bike with a VR headset and Google Street View.

After spending half an hour a day for years riding on his exercise bike in his living room, Puzey, a software developer, began to get bored.

“I’d been daydreaming for a while about the possibility of using VR to make it a bit more fun,” he told The Verge. “And now, of course, the technology has arrived to make it happen.”

Using a Samsung Gear VR, combined with software he developed that displays Google Street View, Puzey is able to experience a 360-degree panorama of the places he is “cycling” through.

He has been documenting his 1,500 kilometre journey on his blog, filming the highlights from each ride.

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It hasn’t always been a smooth ride, though. Puzey reported that nausea can be a problem, especially when navigating complex routes and roundabouts.

The visual aspect can also be an issue, because Street View is sometimes unable to process complex scenes.

"Some things, like buildings, fit very well to this model and look quite solid, but things like trees and hedges and anything lumpy often just looks a mess,” Puzey told The Verge.

“I've also seen things like squashed bugs on the Google camera, bad colours in some scenes, and strange black 'sink holes'. However, even with those problems, it still feels like I’m there.”

Puzey’s travels in VR are not just limited to the UK: he says his next destination might be Japan.

First, though, he needs to finish his journey across the UK. At the end of August, he had reached the Lake District – about two-thirds of the way through the journey.

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Fourth Industrial RevolutionEmerging Technologies
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