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  1. #1
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    Want an Xbox 360 based trainer RLV, VR software?

    I have been on the bubble for some time about a TACX Fortius Multiplayer and a Computrainer. TACX promises the most but for at least the past couple of years their quality control has been non-existent. Computrainer is more reliable, though still buggy, but doesn't do nearly as much as people would like and is geared towards tri's, not roadies. NetAthlon? Not worth discussing. ERG is the most stable but video quality is lacking and offerings are limited (sorry Phil, not my opinion, but others who like things like 'training with Rabobank').

    So, looking to see if there is interest in developing an open source project for Xbox (or Wii). The initial ideal might be something that:

    - Will work reliably with TACX, Computrainer, and other trainers.

    - Support for HRM, Cadence, Power, Speed, and Steering as well as outputting accurate brake / speed (and possibly incline) control.

    - Allow a variety of people to produce real life videos, virtual reality, and games. EG, Phil @ ERG could produce his video's for it, other professionals could, race promoters could produce video's of their courses, and individuals could even do so for their favorite training ride (perhaps using a Contour HD and Garmin for GPS/Geo data). So, you're not limited to just material produced by one group, but can use stuff produced by a wide variety of people.

    - Good multiplayer capabilities either for a dozen people in a single room or via the web. Web could be through virtualrealitycycling.com or something specific to this system.

    There is some code available from PedalSense, ExerGame and CycleScore as well as the potential to acquire dead code from Expresso/IFH, Vcycling, and Kettler. However, IMO, it'd likely be best to start from scratch with a solid requirements def and architecture plan, get some input from folks involved in these previous projects on what not to do, and then build the code.

    Biggest potential bump to work out might be developing any hardware needed, like an ANT+ interface for Xbox, though I'm sure there are folks capable of doing so that wouldn't mind a new line of business (or starting up a garage business).

    Edit: Why Xbox? Many of the problems that Computrainer, TACX, and others have had is due to the wide variety of configurations of PC's that their software must support, from motherboards (eg, I/O chipsets) to CPU's to graphics cards to operating systems. The Xbox is a single platform. Every one is the same. If something runs on one it will run the exact same on the others. Xbox is also a very capable and in this case capable enough. The software that we are talking about is effectively a game with the steerer, cadence, and other inputs replacing a typical game controller (eg, just as other Xbox games come with their own custom controllers).
    Last edited by InfiniteLoop; 02-11-2011 at 11:53 AM.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    i have nothing to add except......
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  3. #3
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    He he he he Bwhahah

  4. #4
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    Go for it! I had a similar idea but am not a programmer type.

    I guess the first question is, what size is the market?

    Who else is interested?

  5. #5
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    Just ride.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulfly_nyc
    I guess the first question is, what size is the market?
    Very tough to pin down. A small group of us were actually considering doing this as a commercial venture with support for cycles, rowers, nordictrack/C2/Kettler skis, and possibly precor ellipticals and joggers (about 90% of the code is common for all of these). Given the costs to develop & market the product at the level we wanted to (very stable, full featured, etc), we could not get comfortable with the numbers we were coming up with so I thought I'd pursue doing an open source project.

  7. #7
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    I like the idea, as I have been thinking about some of the compu-trainers etc but would prefer the output on my TV and not the crappy monitor I have. If something was available now for the x-box it would be on the top of my list to look at.

  8. #8
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    It's actually a great idea but I think you are off on your approach. It won't work as an open source project. You would likely need to support the PS3 and Xbox and Sony and Microsoft charge both over $10k for the developer kits and each person working on the project would need one. There is an open source XDK for Xbox, but anything you code with it has to be run on a hacked Xbox and is technically illegal as it violates the licensing agreement for the Xbox itself.

  9. #9
    slow and fat
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    I would buy this if it were available. Been looking for an xbox based training tool.

  10. #10
    Clyde-o-Matic
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    I've got a PS2 system that isn't worth using. Netathlon isn't bad. Waiting to see what the new CT system looks like but will probably just keep using the CT in erg mode. Erg Video is okay. But if you really want to know the truth, do your easy day rides while watching movies/TV and for the hard days, just watch the power output. You will need tunes and maybe some tour or one day races playing but one really just needs to focus on hitting the power as required for the intervals. All the virtual reality stuff is fluff that you will get bored with.

  11. #11
    jmx
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    I can't give many details, but I've written 3d PC training software over the last few months. It supports Heartrate, cadence, and speed, and calculates power assuming you have a trainer which provides a speed->power conversion equation. If I had membership to the ANT+ development groups I would also add in powermeter support.

    It allows you to edit workouts, then perform them compete with realtime graphs of everything, 3d graphics showing a bike going through the motions, and allows you to ride around in a 3d world in order to make riding a trainer "more interesting". All your results are then saved to a standard .FIT file which can be imported into any program or website of your choice.

    Your reasoning of wanting to use an XBox is sound, but I think unrealistic. You will never be able to implement the features you want with such a closed platform, and you'll never be able to legitimately sell such a product as you'd never get the licensing in place. You need ANT+ drivers, or custom serial interfaces available to communicate with the bike hardware and writing that on an xbox will not be possible with their C# community dev tools. You'd need proper devkits, expensive licensing, and MSFT's approval....which you wont get unless you have a big publisher behind you. This is coming from somebody who does console dev for a living.

    The software will need to be for PC. This is 100% reasonable, and thousands of dev's put out PC products every year. The failure of companies before is simply their own failure, and not indicative of product in general on PCs. There will always be some issues, but PCs have become much more uniform in recent years so they should be reduced these days.

  12. #12
    QED
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    Searching for something else and stumbled onto this. Have you thought about developing this for the Kinect for xBox? It would require using something that the sensor could detect the spin of the wheels. Just a thought.

  13. #13
    jmx
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    I can see Kinect or PS3 EYE working to detect wheel spin rate, but you'd still be missing out on heart rate and power signals if they existed. For a program that is meant to be somewhat serious, I think those are essential to support.

  14. #14
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    This is a great discussion. I'm enjoying the idea and input more than sitting here talking clients off the ledge from the fall in their investments.

    While I think MOST households probably have at least one of the gaming machines, how many are also cyclists? And serious enough, at that, to want something like this? It's a beautiful idea, but the economics are going to be impossible to overcome. Welcome to Amerika.

    Using the Kinect for the XBOX or PS3 eye is gonna have to be that hardware tie-in. No new peripherals except perhaps a sensor included with the software to go on the bike. I think this kind of basis for design would appeal to MS and to Sony, because I believe they will have a glut of similar titles for their Wii competitors before long. I think they are gonna run out of ideas. This is a new, different one, but uses the current capabilities.
    If confronted by a mountain lion, it's best to pretend to be as big as possible. But not big as in important, ie, "Do You Know Who I Am?".

  15. #15
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    Good luck with the licensing fees, they are a killer. Just Cert-ing your application with Sony and Micrsoft is a pain. Especially if you start getting into hardware connecting to the console.

    If you require someone to use a "hacked" console to run the software, then that is an unrealistic requirement for all but the most hardcore gamer/programmer types. The average user is not going to break open their system and void the warranty to use the program.

  16. #16
    QED
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    Actually, the API for Kinect has been out for a few months, it is open source and anyone can program it with no hacking required. I have been developing a program which would allow for visualizations in math which isn't a game (and no I don't work for the company). The Kinect can be hooked to the USB on your computer (no xbox required). Inside it there are 5 motion sensors, a camera, a video camera and it can be programmed to be voice activated.

    So this idea isn't so far fetched. Just needs someone to write the program to measure cadence, speed, correct body position on the bike, and anything other data you wanted to get from the bike itself...at the same time you could have it collecting a video of the rider's movement and some still shots at certain points. Then you have a wireless heart rate, O2 monitor that is simultaneously feeding data into the computer. That all is doable. It could be a great tool, not just for staying in shape, but for helping us ride better.

    And if we want to dream big, someone programs a series of rides where we could watch the route on the tv, giving an experience of immersion into the ride. I love to ride outside too, but in the cold dark winter...it would be a good tool. It could actually make us more efficient bikers so that when the spring came, we wouldn't be making up so much lost ground.

    The data collection part wouldn't be that hard to program. An undergraduate computer science major could do that. Then the whole package could be marketed for indoor riding/performance training, along with a kinectic trainer or rollers, with the kinect and the heart rate monitor and the software. Or it could be marketed in individual parts and let people buy the parts they want, i.e if I have a trainer, I could just buy the software.

    The Kinect is pretty revolutionary and only begins to touch the idea of interactive activities which produce a psychological feeling of immersion.

  17. #17
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    But, once again, you are back to using a PC for the software. This is really my point. Developing for the PC is cheap. There are no requirements for certification of the software, no licensing fees, etc. But developing for a console is a whole other animal. I work for a game development studio, so I know all the hoops you have to jump through to get a console game on the shelf and it is a long list. The more hardware you add into the equation, the more complex the issue becomes.

    So an open-source bike trainer project that will run on a console will be a tough project to get off the ground without a dedicated team and financial backing.

    Anyway, I wish the OP luck, but I've seen these type of requests before on other forums for everything from game ideas to productivity software. Often times they go nowhere because most people have full-time jobs and little time to devote to such a demanding project that would offer little compensation.

  18. #18
    jmx
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    Quote Originally Posted by QED View Post
    Actually, the API for Kinect has been out for a few months, it is open source and anyone can program it with no hacking required. I have been developing a program which would allow for visualizations in math which isn't a game (and no I don't work for the company). The Kinect can be hooked to the USB on your computer (no xbox required). Inside it there are 5 motion sensors, a camera, a video camera and it can be programmed to be voice activated. .
    Ok, now you're back to the PC...if you're on the PC why the heck would you want to use kinect, aside from maybe some sort of "fit" analysis to judge smoothness of the rider and hip/torso angles? There are much much better ways to get cadence and wheelspin rates once we're back on the PC.

    Anyway, here's a program I'm working on and I use it for all my indoor training. There's a bunch of info along with a youtube video here:
    jmX Trainer Coach

    Some thumbnails from that url:




    OpenGL, ANT+, power meter support, heart rate support, cadence, logs to garmin data files which work on just about every piece of fitness software and fitness website, etc.

    To put that on an XBOX or PS3 would be an undue pain due to hardware drivers needing to be written and the small audience for this type of software (believe me, I've gone through 2 ps3 submissions, an xbox submission, and 2 wii submissions in the last 6 months).

  19. #19
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    I would certainly be interested in something like this, and gladly pay for it.

    What about an app for a tablet? Would that be easier than say something. For the Xbox or PS3?

  20. #20
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    +1 for a PC based app. Would definitely purchase.

  21. #21
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    [QUOTE=jmx;3609781]Ok, now you're back to the PC...if you're on the PC why the heck would you want to use kinect, aside from maybe some sort of "fit" analysis to judge smoothness of the rider and hip/torso angles? There are much much better ways to get cadence and wheelspin rates once we're back on the PC.

    If you add power to this I'd buy it. For sure. Its always surprised me that something like this isnt more readily available.

    Also, as an added feature if you could make competitions. Something like full tilt poker..... I can login to my account at certain times and join a tt, or a road race. Imagine being able to race straight through the winter!

  22. #22
    jmx
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrhodes View Post
    If you add power to this I'd buy it. For sure. Its always surprised me that something like this isnt more readily available.

    Also, as an added feature if you could make competitions. Something like full tilt poker..... I can login to my account at certain times and join a tt, or a road race. Imagine being able to race straight through the winter!
    The website should detail all the support I've added. It supports ANT+ powermeters (actually I've only tested powertaps, crank based ones probably work too), or it can also derive power based on the power curve of a KK road machine if that is the specific trainer you own. Again it is all logged to the same data file a garmin would save out so you can do full power analysis with it.

    I originally wrote it because I was too cheap to buy a powermeter and wanted logged data files to plug into WKO+ or Golden Cheetah, but have since got a powertap so now it supports both methods of power.

  23. #23
    QED
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    Totally agree that programming it for xbox would be expensive. I agree with uffy that it would still be a useful app.

    Here is the promo for kinect. I am the architect on a visualization project in education with it. It is a fascinating project to watch how people interact with it. Kinect Effect - YouTube

    Who knows, the idea behind the technology could replace the mouse and the remote control someday.

  24. #24
    Wheel Spinner
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    I have been using the Real Axiom virtual trainer and I miss it, but can do without it because it was unreliable. Pisses me off that half the time I am ready to do training I gotta fiddle with it to get it going, easily taking up 30 minutes or more.

    if someone could develop a solid vr training experience for the Wii or Xbox that's reliable like a console I'd look into it. Something like the Kinect Sports, where you play/train on your own for a little while using the little avatar you create. it doesn't necessarily have to be real world video type stuff, not for me anyway. Just something with accurate number and a visual representation that could get me involved.

    Got to have online capabilities as well.

    Needs to have power, cadence, speed and variable resistance to simulate hills. As for steering, gotta have something like that Tacx thing that holds your front forks or you use your controller, or the kinect can maybe watch your handlebars.

    Probably would take a lot of hardware and revisions to get it right, but I would definitely like it more than headphones and kk trainer staring at the wall.
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  25. #25
    Wheel Spinner
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    I think the only way to come up with something like this, that involves the best of many worlds is to hack something up. Take a tacx or computrainer with the fork mod and xbox with kinect sports or wii with wii sports, mash it all together and walaa .... instant indoor training greatness. All we need is a mad scientist or physicist to figure it out. hmmm .... IRONMAN to the rescue !!
    Cannondale Six 2009 - Groupride Terror

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