If you´re like me, you want to work out, because you know it´s healthy, but routine workouts on your stationary bike or trainer can get quite boring.
The Vigatar is a full-body exercise-machine that doubles as a controller for PC-based videogames: instead of just moving your thumbs and index fingers, you need to pedal, push, pull and pump your way through the game. You´ll get so carried away "shooting the dragon" or racing your formula-1 car that you´ll forget how tired you are and keep pushing yourself to the limit. It´s so immersive that you´ll be longing for your next workout instead of dreading it!
The Vigatar offers a full body workout: the cycling movement incites cardiovascular exercise while moving the handlebars trains the arms, chest and core body muscles. After a robust session, you might even feel your abs!
Since the amount of mechanical resistance as well as the saddle height can be regulated, the Vigatar is suitable for a wide range of users, from young teenagers to large adults.
Parents who worry about their children becoming gaming-addicted couch potatoes, now have a fantastic new option for their kids: "play as much videogames as you like... but only using this new controller!"
HOW THE PROJECT BEGAN
Several years ago I was working out on an elliptical trainer while watching TV to kill the monotony. Next to me, my kids were completely immersed in their videogame. It occured to me that if I could "steer" a game like theirs with my trainer, I wouldn´t have to "drag" myself through my exercise routine; quite the opposite, I´d probably get carried along, way beyond the self-imposed half hour training routine!
After throwing the idea around with some fysiotherapist friends, discussing muscle groups and "cardiovascular versus strength" training, I came up with several designs, including this drawing, litterally made on a napkin:
.It was obvious the arm- and leg movements would have to be independent, and not mechanically linked as with an elliptical trainer. By opting for a cycling movement, the saddle would function as a "fixed point" of reference.
So we set out to build a first prototype.
.A friend wrote the version of the code so that we could start testing the concept.
Henry testing the software for a Pacman game. Small changes (such as extending the time an arrow is kept pressed down with a tenth of a second) can make a large difference in the gamer experience.
Once it was obvious that the basic concept was "a winner", I decided to dedicate part of the resources of my company to further developing the prototypes and hired the necessary professional services (programming, industrial design, patent application, etc.).
Pedro working on the improved prototype
HOW WE INTEND TO PROCEED
Upon successful completion of this campaign we will set up a new company with the sole purpose of developing and commercializing the Vigatar. My current company (Reyxaudio s.l, fiscal number ESB92413822) will still be involved since as a wholesale importer of various goods from Europe and the Far East, we are well equipped to handle the logistics once the Vigatar has been produced.
As soon as we have reached our 100K Kickstarter target, we will sign a block contract with Industrial designer "Enserink Design" to fine-tune the industrial design and liaise with the manufacturer.
The manufacturer we have chosen to work with is located in Taiwan (we have identified two alternative manufacturers in mainland China). If negotiations are completed successfully they will manufacture a pre-production prototype for us late August and we will visit them in person in September to participate in testing and improving potential flaws. One of us will stay there until November to supervise the pre-production phase. Depending on how things look by then we hope to start production in December 2014.
After his summer break, we will also hire the full-time services of our programmer Jorge Fuentes (who has worked on a freelance basis for us until now) and he will be joined by a junior programmer/assitant. Together they will further improve and fine-tune the software.
Risks and challenges
While we´ve spent several years developing and fine tuning the Vigatar, a lot remains to be done, in the following domains:
1 - manufacturing
2 - software development
3 - industrial design
1 - MANUFACTURING. We have identified several factories that have the capacity to manufacture the Vigatar according to our CAD-CAM design. At the conclusion of the kickstarter campaign we will know how many Vigatars we need to build and the actual negotiating will start. I have lots of experience with industrial negotiations, they tend to be detailed and complex, and this one will be no exception.
2 - SOFTWARE. In the adjoined video you can see the prototype we built. It actually does work, the games you see are played in real time, with software written in C+ running on a teensy chip mounted at the front.
While the software works, we still have a lot of work to further develop a large variety of templates, to handle virtually any type of game, since actions on the vigatar must be mapped in different ways to the keystrokes that they replace: for instance in the motorcycling game, your virtual speed incresases when you pedal faster; in the helicopter game, pedalling faster doesn´t increase your speed but rather increases the reaction time of your turns. At this point in time we can´t make any promises, but we´ve been experimenting with a more powerful chip with a graphics processor, a micro SD slot and an HDMI plug. If we can get enough processing power without increasing our cost too much, we just might decide to include a number of basic games that would run on the internal chip so that you wouldn´t even need a PC to get started... you´d just plug in a monitor and start playing.
3 - INDUSTRIAL DESIGN. In the 3-D rendering at the end of our video you can see what the finished Vigatar is going to look like. We have CAD-CAM plans but they still need fine-tuning: in particular, we need to improve the way the Vigatar can be folded and dismounted for transport and for storage. We also need to work on making the Vigatar adjustable for a larger range of sizes from small fourteen year-olds to large adults, by adjusting not just the height of the saddle but also the height of the handlebars and the amount of pressure on the different moving parts.
No. When you plug the Vigatar´s USB cable into your computer, it´s as if your plugging in an external keyboard - it´s THAT simple! Basically, the Vigatar IS like an external keyboard: it sends digital commands to your computer instructing when to press keys like the Up-, Down-, Left- and Right arrows, the space bar, etc. In the future we might manage to make the Vigatar compatible with consoles like the xBox and the Playstation, but for the moment it only works with PC-based games.
Morally support our fun project, give us your "thumbs up" and bask in our eternal gratitude! ;-) ..we might even mention you as an early mega-trend-spotter on our website! And we´ll ask your opinion (by email) when we have critical decisions to make regarding the further development of the Vigatar.
Ultra-earlybird special deal: get one of the very first Vigatars for the ridiculously low price of 199 Euros!! (that´s about $269 with June 2014´s exchange rate). That´s a ludicrous 60% below the suggested retail price!! It´s waaaaayy below our cost, but it´s our way of thanking you for helping us take off with screeching tyres!
Welcome, earlybird! You´re one of only a hundred people who will pay less than 45% of the recommended four-ninety-nine retail price for your brand new, trendsetting Vigatar! (With June´s exchange rate, 219 euros was about $298).
By now the early bird units have all been sold, but we´re still out to get you a smoking hot deal! Get a nice Vigatar for € 279.-, that´s less than the fine for wearing saggy jeans in Boston! ;-). And it´s more than 44% off the RRP.
Well, you missed out on the early bird offers, but you´re still getting a fabulous deal: a shiny new Vigatar for €349, less than a single night at the Krashnapolsky... Order your Vigatar now with 30% off RRP and receive it way before your friends can get one outside of Kickstarter!
Besides two brand-new Vigatars, you will receive a VIP invitation for two to come and participate in the first Vigatar conference and competition to be held within a year of the production launch in a really cool place (VIP-dinner included, other travel and lodging expenses not included). Tons of fun and bonding with like-minded prodigious Vigatarians guaranteed! ...Aaaand... we´ll send you the beta version of the software needed to compete with two Vigatar´s one against the other!