The vibration-sensing, head-tracking Fit Freeway "exergaming" app
By Darren Quick
January 18, 2012
As evidenced by the popularity of motion controlled fitness games ushered in by the Wii and followed by the PlayStation Move and Kinect, so called "exergaming" - the combining of exercise and video games - is a field that has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years. But if you don't want to shell out for a new console and already have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, as well as a treadmill, elliptical machine or exercise bike laying about, then the new Fit Freeway app is designed to make working up a sweat a bit more fun.
Aside from a compatible iOS device and existing
torture device exercise machine, the Fit Freeway app doesn't require any additional hardware, meaning you can even take it to the gym with you. The Outrun-style racer is based on a game called Final Freeway and works by using the accelerometer of an iOS device placed on the exercise machine to detect your level of exertion through the amount of vibration you're generating. The more vigorous your exercising, the greater the amount of vibration, and the faster you're virtual ride will go - or at least that's the idea. Meanwhile, the iOS device's camera is used to track your head movements so you can steer the car through traffic by tilting your head left or right. This means you'll have to position the mobile device's camera so it can see your noggin. The game also includes iPod support for listening to your own workout soundtrack.
Having given the free version of the app a quick trial on an exercise bike, the steering works pretty well, but is pretty forgiving. However, using the vibration to determine the speed of the vehicle was less impressive. Even relatively slow speeds on the bike translated into flat out acceleration with only the slowest turning of the pedals slowing the car down at all. If there was a way to calibrate this in the game - pedal flat out now to set your fastest speed, for example - things might be better. But maybe just once my gut starts jiggling there's no stopping it.
Thankfully BitGym has released a free version of the Fit Freeway app alongside the paid version, so you can give it a try before you buy to see if it works with your particular setup. The paid version is available now for the introductory price of US$2.99, but will increase to $4.99 in the future. It is compatible with iPhone 4/4S, iPad 2 and camera-equipped iPod touch.
The company also has plans for other "exergames" in the future and has made the SDK used to create Fit Freeway, which provides access to the motion and exercise tracking technology it employs, available to developers.
Here's a video showing Fit Freeway in action.