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Old 04-07-2009, 04:02 PM   #1
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Elliptical Link to Computer

Since this is sort of under "entertainment" I posted this here. I've noticed a few electronics and software people and thought I'd see how viable this idea is. I find exercise really boring, but if I do something too distracting I invariably start going slower and slower without noticing. What I'd really like to do is link my elliptical to my computer so it acts as an active input to a game so I am engaged, but also aware of my pace.

This is just at the brainstorming stage, but since the elliptical has a magnetic switch that trips once a revolution, I figure buying a cheap USB joystick or mouse or something and replacing one of the buttons with the elliptical's switch seems like the easiest approach to get the signal into the computer. Then I'd have to write a program to read and process the signal and get a game with enough of a scripting capability to accept input. I really need a game input that it pays to keep going all the time, so any direct connection to speed of movement is out. Maybe turn off any health and you only get it back via the elliptical? An endurance meter would be even better I guess, but a lot of games don't have a direct analog for that. Maybe a simple script that only allows walking if you're down too much. It could automatically change the recharge constant to keep you in a certain speed range (that's the real world elliptical speed, I mean).

OK, those were my brainstorming thoughts so far. Any suggestions? Criticisms? Insults?
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 04-07-2009, 04:14 PM   #2
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I think I've seen the system a few months ago. If it wasn't a commercial product, it was at least backed by funding and prototyped. It's not immediately available from a google search.

You can buy videos of bicycle rides if you want to watch a simulated ride on tv (from helmet-cam's point of view) while you train.
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Old 04-07-2009, 05:07 PM   #3
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There's a stationary bicycle that does it. It's like $3000. Yikes. Wasn't meant for the kind of games I like either, but that could've changed.
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 04-08-2009, 05:00 AM   #4
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this is precisely why i consider my gym membership an absolute need. they've got interactive machines now, not to mention a bike room for hard core competitors(not sure what it's called).

do not underestimate the importance of interacting w/ people as well. a partner can help you more than you can help yourself.

and for $3k i get ~8 years in gym membership that goes well beyond just cardio machines. movie theater(cardio cinema), free weights, strength machines, sauna, arobics, and b-ball court are just a few.

edit: almost forgot that the lastest research is showing that strength training is now considered to be MORE important than cardio workouts. done at a quick pace, it can be both.
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Old 04-08-2009, 05:53 AM   #5
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I belonged to a YMCA for a bit and did enjoy it very much, so I think you're spot on. Now I live very far from the nearest gym (50 minute drive or so). Since I exercise every day that'd be way too much driving. I'm planning to get some strength training equipment once my place is a bit more finished. At the Boston Museum of Science they had a great exhibit about the importance of strength training as you age. They had two bags, one simulating the apparent weight of a heavy bag of groceries if you were older (70s, maybe? I forget) and had done weight exercises, and one for how it would feel if you hadn't. Quite a difference and a very simple, effective demonstration. I love that sort of thing.

Possibly my best approach is to simply deal with the boredom for now and wait until I move someplace closer to a gym. Listening to my podcasts at 1.5x normal speed does help a bit.
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 04-08-2009, 06:16 AM   #6
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good points. i failed to consider drive time and personal motivation.

i live very close to my gym and either combine it w/ other errands or go on the way home from work.
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Old 04-08-2009, 06:21 AM   #7
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That's a great way to help you do it frequently.
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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