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Sep 12, 2016 8:24 AM ET

Archived: Crowdability: VirZOOM – VR Platform Exercise Bike

iCrowdNewswire - Sep 12, 2016



VR Platform Exercise Bike






Virtual Reality


Cambridge, MA

VirZoom is a Virtual Reality platform that looks and acts like an exercise bike. To make exercise fun and engaging, it pairs its stationary bike with internally-developed games. These games have been designed by award-winning gaming veterans who built billion-dollar brands like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

As the tech blog “The Verge” wrote: “VirZoom is the only fully realized exercise product out there right now.”

“Engadget” said: “A surprisingly effective way to make exercise feel like anything but.”

These games allow users to command a tank in battle; a horse in a western town; a flying Pegasus through a southwestern canyon; or an Apache helicopter in a firefight.

VirZOOM’s SDK (software development kit) allows third party VR game developers to create VirZOOM versions of full-motion VR games for Oculus, Vive, and PlayStationVR.

VirZOOM’s Bluetooth module can pair with iOS and Android mobile VR platforms for mobile VR gaming.

VirZOOM is working on a PC game controller emulator, which would will let customers use VirZOOM with many of their favorite video games. It is also currently in conversations with fitness and gaming industry leaders, which it believes will be able to adapt VirZOOM technology for a wide range of applications, such as fitness, gaming, and education.

The VZ Controller weighs approximately 38 pounds. It can be used by kids or adults, from 4′ 4″ to 6′ 2″ and weighing up to 260 pounds. It takes up 26″ x 24″ of floor space when opened, and stores in a 13″ x 24″ space.

VZ Games are arcade-style games that vary from competitive games of skill to relaxing, exploratory experiences. Third party developers can use the SDK to create an expanding universe of VR games and experiences.

VirZOOM believes there is a consumer need for convenient and fun exercise that doesn’t require serious discipline. They base this belief, in part, on the following:

-Every year, wholesalers spend more than $3.7 billion on fitness equipment
-Over $22 billion is spent on health club memberships yearly
-Only 27% of teens meet minimum CDC guidelines for physical exercise
-97% of teens play computer, web, portable, or console games
-VirZOOM believes that when users play games on its Gaming System, they get exercise without realizing it.

VirZOOM is currently taking pre-orders. Starting in June 2016, it plans to sell the VirZOOM Game System for $399.95, which will include five games. The VZ Live monthly membership that comes with the controller will give customers early access to games, multiplayer mode play, fitness tracking, and other online benefits.

VirZOOM plans to sell VZ Live for 99 cents to the first 1,000 VZ Early Adopters. Using telemetry built into the games, it will be able to tell which games early customers are using, for how long, and how often. VirZOOM intends to use this data to set an initial monthly membership price in Q4 2016, which it currently anticipates will be $9.95/month. VirZOOM expects to be able to increase the monthly membership to $19.95, since it anticipates that the library of 1st party and 3rd party VZ Games will grow.

VirZOOM started taking pre-orders from its web site in Q1 2016, and plans on offering sales through online stores including Amazon.com and BestBuy.com.

Starting in 2017, VirZOOM plans to sell OEM versions of its products via partnerships with major fitness equipment and gaming industry leaders. These partners believe the VirZOOM controller technology, motion controls, and games to be a key differentiator from fitness equipment makers, and that these differentiators will help their equipment stand out as more advanced and fun than other fitness equipment. Discussions with commercial partners are underway.

Eric Janszen lives in New England, where biking enthusiasts who hope to stay in condition are stuck on stationary bikes indoors in the winter.

One winter day in the early ’80s, he was riding a stationary bike in a basement fitness room. Bored, he closed his eyes and imagined himself pedaling through a 3D world, a game that challenged him to quickly choose between branching tunnels for points. But given the limitations of computers and video screens at the time, he couldn’t act on his vision.

Not until he met with his friend Eric Malafeew in early 2014 did the full vision of VirZOOM come together. In early 2014, Malafeew built a VirZOOM prototype using his daughter’s bike, a laptop, and a DK2. After several experiments, the co-founders were convinced that a great VR motion product could be created.

Soon, the two founders realized that games could be made that cause users to react emotionally and physically to VR, and that by designing the games the right way, they could channel those reactions into physical activity to keep users moving.

Integrated wireless sensors track all of your movements, and sensors measure your pedaling speed –- so the faster you pedal in the real world, the faster you go in the virtual world.

You can steer by leaning your body to the left and right. Action buttons, triggers and a pad on the handlebars create advanced game-play.

VirZOOM believes that, unlike traditional exercise bikes, its games so deeply engage users that they do not even notice that they are exercising. Most of VZ’s games can also operate in multiplayer mode, which they believe increases user engagement. With an internet connection, users can play VirZOOM with other VZ players, anywhere in the world.

Percent of Teens that Game: 97%.
Size of Global Video Game Market: $75 billion annually.
Game Development: Led by Guitar Hero and Rock Band veterans.
Distribution and OEM agreement discussions: in progress.
Compatible with: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony PSVR.


Eric Janszen – Co-Founder & CEO

Eric Janszen is an avid bike rider with more than 25 years of experience in technology and investments.

His past business experience includes:

Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of mKues, Inc. a NY-based start-up with patented audio technology to make TV shoppable.

Founder and President of iTulip, Inc., the global online economics and financial markets community founded in 1998 that the New York Times, CNBC, and others credit with accurate economic and market forecasting.

President and CEO of AutoCell Laboratories, Inc.

EIR at $1.6 billion Venture Capital firm Trident Capital.

President and CEO of Bluesocket, Inc. (enterprise WiFi company, successful exit.)

Managing Director of seed-stage investment firm Osborn Capital. Between 1998 and 2003, Osborn Capital had six exits out of 20 portfolio companies, including two IPOs and four acquisitions (Cisco, Microsoft, EMC, and Nortel).

Previously held executive roles in system software engineering, product management, product marketing, and sales for Boston area high technology companies, including two that went public: Media 100 and Stratus Computer.

Author of “The Postcatastrophe Economy: Rebuilding America and Avoiding the Next Bubble” Penguin, 2010.

Co-Author of “America’s Bubble Economy” by John Wiley & Sons. 2006.

He graduated from U. Mass. Amherst with a B.S. in Resource Economics.

Eric Malafeew – Co-Founder & CTO

Before co-founding VirZOOM, Eric worked for over 25 years on video games and military simulations. First, he worked on flight simulators and robotics for Lockheed Martin and the government, then he worked in the private sector, creating the game engine for Harmonix Music Systems, and acting as Chief Architect on blockbuster titles like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central.

He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech, and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

Eric Malafeew – CTO & Co-Founder

Before co-founding VirZOOM, Eric worked for over 25 years on videogames and military simulations.  First, on flight simulators and robotics for the government, then in the private sector, creating the game engine for Harmonix Music Systems, and acting as Chief Architect on blockbuster titles like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central. He brings his experience building games with unique game controllers to VirZOOM, with its exercise-bike-based VR game controller, and specialized VR games.  He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech,  and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

Contact Information:

Eric Malafeew - Co-Founder & CTO

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