Icarus Transforms Exercise Into a Flying Game With Full VR Immersion

Paula Rothman tries out the Icaros VR, a machine that allows you to exercise while immersed in a VR game such as flying through hoops in the sky. It was out for demonstration at Eureka Park in the Sands Convention Center on Jan. 5 in Las Vegas, N.V. Photo by Ann Singer/BU News Service

By Paula Rothman
For BU News Service

LAS VEGAS—From a distance, Icarus machine looked like a strange cross between a dentist’s chair and an elliptical, but from the look of the crowd gathered around it at CES, it seemed like it would be an exciting ride.

Developed by a German startup, Icarus is a fully immersive virtual reality experience that allows you to exercise while playing a game. It gives you a mind-blowing flying experience while you work hard to keep your balance.

The machine supports your knees and elbows but because it is very unstable, it forces you to supports your own belly and quads while you move to the left, right, forward or backward while trying to achieve the goal of the game. “You control the system with your center of gravity,” said Icarus CEO Michael Schmidt.

The experience works not only because your body is not touching the floor, but because the VR goggles project a different world in front of your eyes. Think of it as planking or doing Pilates, but instead of being in a gym, you fly above mountains while trying to successfully pass through a series of floating hula hoops.

Schmidt and his team developed all the software and hardware components of Icarus except for the goggles. The team plans to start selling it in April at a retail price of $8,000. They are also partnering with two German universities to study the actual calorie loss and muscle impact of using Icarus.

Regardless of the results, Icarus already came pretty close to their initial goal.

“We wanted to create a training device that allows you to fly,” said Schmidt.

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