Exercise Along To Google Street View

As part of a Master’s Thesis [Lette Moloney] made this exercise bike control Google Street View. The hardware setup is quite rudimentary, two hall effect sensors mounted next to each other detect a magnet that was hot-glued to the crank. When the magnet passes the sensors an Arduino establishes if it was a forward or backward stroke based on which sensor was tripped first. From there a keystroke is issued to Google Street View to move the virtual location accordingly.

One thing we didn’t expect until we saw the video (embedded after the break) is that traversing street view is not a smooth experience. It’s more of a slide show as you exercise. Not a big deal since the hardware setup can be reused with different virtual stimuli. One thing that comes to mind is attaching a camera to the handlebars of your bike and recording your favorite rides during the warm months so that you can replay them during your indoor winter training. Of course that’s going to require some coding to marry the Arduino data to the speed of the video playback but we want to see it done anyway. Wow, image a database that would allow folks to share point-of-view videos of their rides… it’s the only way we’d ever get to see what it’s like to climb your way up Alpe_d’Huez.

We saw a slew of these stationary bike hacks a while back. If this wets your appetite, check in on one with a wearable display, another that also uses Street View, or pedaling to the top of a miniature mountain.


28 thoughts on “Exercise Along To Google Street View

  1. Why would you expect that it would be a smooth experience? Anyone who has used street view knows that you can’t smoothly scroll through it, you need to continue to click to advance to each next segment along the route.

  2. @Marco I was wondering the same, but after all, it’s not engineering or computer science, it’s “a 12-month intensive course that is designed specifically for art and design graduates”

  3. @Marco
    Agreed. This is trivial. Its sad that some people spend money on a degree like this thinking it will land them a real job. This would be a cool project if an 10 year old had done it, but coming from a masters student this is just sad. Good luck finding a job in this economy

  4. For a master thesis, for any course, this really is sad. You can determine the direction with a single latching hall sensor, if you place the magnets such that both the north and south poles pass over the hall sensor, and the distance between the magnets is much larger then the width of the magnet. Pedaling in one direction would give a small duty-cycle (short high pulse), and the other direction would give a large duty cycle (short low pulse). I’d like to thing any masters student would be able to figure that out.

    The concept of point-of-view rides could be viable, with a number of improvements. First of all, a larger number of magnets would be a good idea, to get a shorter measurement interval.

    It would be really cool to incorporate steepness or pedal torque data in the stream, and use an eddy current or other electronically controllable brake on the bike, to mirror the pedaling torque required for a given speed to the actual ride.

    A panoramic view (from a panoramic helmet camera) would be really cool, because that would enable the use of a VR helmet.

    You can really make it as simple or complicated as you like. There could even be a commercial market for the ride data…

  5. A masters thesis? Seriously? Wow. What a piece of crap. A masters thesis on… Generating forward/back/left/right keystrokes from and exercise machine???



    Wow. I’d be embarassed to be that guy. What a fail. People with REAL masters thesis’ are going to laugh this guy out of the indistry!!!

  6. it says “PART OF” a master’s thesis, FYI — lots of theses in design and the applied arts involve a portfolio of projects, and this could be just one of them. No one is going to get a master’s degree just for making this one thing.

    I like HaD, but frankly the cranky bitter frustrated-engineer mindset that shows up in the comments (not on the site content, imagine that) is just gross. If we left everything up to the designers and artists we’d have gorgeous products that felt great to use but didn’t work mechanically; if we left it all up to the engineers every single product would work fine but it would be a 600 pound stainless steel cube.

    People here need to learn to accept that they can do some things better than other people, and other people are much better than them at other things, rather than the whole “omg you mean he didn’t wind his own resistors from carbon wire what a fucking n00b HaD sux” bullshit attitude.

  7. Out(in) for a leisurely ride and Dammit,I looked, the light was green and WHAM one frame later and I get hit by a bus. To make things worse it had an add for Microsoft Windows mobile 7 on the side.

  8. To those of you who appreciate the project, Thank you very much, for those of you who dont, thats up to yourselves, whatever, considering I come from an art background and never touched so much as an LED prior to this year, I feel I did all right out of it, as for a job in the ‘indistry’ at least I can spell the word!
    Also this was only a tiny PART of the Masters Thesis not the complete assessed work for the year,
    I guess it is easy being so critical when hiding behind your computer screens,
    Thank you to those of you who at least tried to be nice about it.

  9. First off I saw this more than a year (maybe two) ago already, so this guy steals stuff for a thesis?

    And @jake you scream he should be embarrassed then type the word “indistry”…

  10. This still isn’t going to get me on an exercise bike, though I would happily jump on one if I could play some San Andreas from the seat.

    At least use a head-mounted display to give you more immersion.

  11. @M4C

    Simulator sickness would be a huge problem. HMDs require significant further development before you can really just drop them in like that.


    The electrical side of this is really not that complicated no matter how you set it up, and you chose an approach that would seem sensible to someone with much more experience in the topic area. I wouldn’t worry about that too much. The design and human sides of this are much more complex and interesting anyway.

  12. This would be really cool if you recorded favorite routes, and then just used faster / slower key inputs into VLC based on the interval between passes. It would be fairly simple to code as well.

    On a side note, people around you would look quite funny.

  13. hello,
    made same thing one year ago using an usb keyboard controller to allow not electronic people to build one.

    used to allow my father to distract when do some cyclette exercises (he has some problem walking…)

    allow also to choose location with super easy interface, with best city around, and an option to randomize location based on db.

    is usefull for people with some disabilities, and funny for all others…

  14. @ Jake and others, yup This idea was out before, I never said I was the first to come up with the idea, far from it, but this was built for people with disabilites and have no experience with computers and also to prove that something like this can be built at little or no cost, all build and code is original though, I didnt steal anything thanks!!

  15. Why did you have to “prove” something that was already common sense?

    Only required input: Left, right, forward, back. Lol.

    I’m sorry, sounds like it’s better suited for a highschool science project. I’m shocked that anyone would consider this a relevant thesis topic, it must have taken all of what, 2 days to finish? If that??? A thesis is supposed to mean something, be relevent and complex…


  16. You know, I just realized something. You *aren’t* an electrical person, are you. See, I’m going on the assumption that your “Interactive Media” description implied that you were some sort of electrical engineering technology student or something. If you don’t have an electrical background, then bravo for figuring out the use of hall sensors and whatnot, but still – If I did my masters in EE with a thesis that tried to do someting that had already been done 10 times over, they’d tell me to go to hell and laugh me out of the office. Maybe things are different in your program. I dunno.

  17. Jake, but who said its EE? :) u clearly havent read any of my post or blog to find out anything about the project, its all there if you read it!! Im not an engineer I am a creative with a background in art and absolutely no background at all in electronics of any kind, if you had read the full post you wouldnt have had to ‘realise’ that!

    There is a massive difference and the Masters was not just based on this build alone because yes, its very basic electronics, but graded rather on the quality of content in research and explanation and in showing documentary evidence of everything involved in this project, not just the build but working with people with disabilities and palliative illness themselves.

    The project was built for them and was PROVEN for them because the majority if not all the people I worked with during this project in the care centre had never heard of a hall sensor much less an arduino!!

    Try not to be so critical when there is far more to the picture than what you read in a brief blog post, where my engineering fails it makes up for in the HCI, user studies and Human factors involved, thats the side of interaction design I studied!

  18. I use the Taxc almost every day in the winter for a Cycling Trainer .. You can import Google Earth kml..with elevation controlling a torque inducing motor to mimic very realistically hills both up and down .. Ride it .. Save it .. Upload to a Tacx supported web site and “race” against ppl from all over the world . And there is a Live REal Time way to ride with other riders . . the cost is around $1200 pricey for most, but for a serious Cycler it’s not much…

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