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 ICAROS: Virtual Reality for Athletes
AWARD | 09.06.2016

A look at the ISPO BRANDNEW Overall Winner 2016

ICAROS: Fitness combined with virtual reality

ICAROS: Virtual Reality for Athletes. Munich start-up ICAROS is Overall Winner at ISPO BRANDNEW 2016
Munich start-up ICAROS is Overall Winner at ISPO BRANDNEW 2016
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The desire to fly is something humans have experienced from time immemorial. The same is true of the enjoyment of athletic competition. ICAROS combines both of these desires in one piece of equipment that could revolutionize the fitness world.

The idea that made ICAROS the undisputed ISPO BRANDNEW Overall Winner in 2016: While laying in a futuristic frame, the athlete glides through virtual worlds using virtual reality goggles and playfully exercises their entire body – just as if they were superman or some other flying superhero.

One example of what ICAROS can do is take you flying through an animated canyon landscape with breathtaking speed. The interplay between the carriage holding the athlete and virtual reality produces an exceptionally realistic sensation of flying. The transmission of movement using the controller attached to the handlebar works with no delay whatsoever.

ICAROS’s award-winning design and fitness concept

After receiving the award ISPO BRANDNEW Overall Winner the shower of awards continued into Spring 2016. At the FIBO fitness fair in Cologne, ICAROS took second place for the Jury Award and the third place for the Trade Visitors Award. In addition, the design of ICAROS received an RedDot Design Award Honourable Mention.

“The vision behind ICAROS is that exercise can be fun. You can play and not have it weigh on your conscience. The era of tediously lifting weights, which so many people find so boring, is over,” explains Johannes Scholl, CEO of ICAROS GmbH. His design is the logical combination of sports and entertainment in the digital world.

A concept that industrial design student Johannes Scholl developed in 2010 while working as an intern at Munich innovation company HYVE as part of his thesis work. When he told his then-boss, Michael Schmidt, that he wanted to invent a new kind of sports equipment, the response was short and simple: “Great idea, but if you want to design a piece of sports equipment, don’t go for the nth home gym – do something spectacular. Make a machine that lets you fly.” And that is essentially how ICAROS was born.

ICAROS combines sports and virtual reality

Scholl and Schmidt pondered the idea and ICAROS slowly but surely took shape. “We started at zero. We just began building the thing on the computer,” says Scholl of the design process. “The first idea was based on an exoskeleton with a large number of servo motors. Totally out there and infinitely expensive.”

They are now on the third prototype of ICAROS.  But this principle of “using the centrally located gyroscope and the two axles that ultimately meet at the user’s center of gravity” has remained the same. Prototype number three now works on a completely wireless basis and requires only an app and a suitable smartphone. The cell phone is mounted onto the virtual reality goggles as a screen and then you can start your virtual flying and fitness session with the sports equipment.

ISPO.COM editor Florian Pertsch tried out the new piece of fitness equipment and learned how athletes can use ICAROS’ virtual reality to train a wide range of areas: through concentration, reflexes and of course strength – everything is possible. For example, going into a nosedive strongly engages the musculature of the shoulder, while broad turns work the virtual flyer’s lateral torso muscles.

The ICAROS team is already working on bringing computerized opponents into these virtual worlds – and even eventually enabling multiplayer games where you can compete against real people online. Playfulness is always useful in sports: “We see ICAROS primarily as a fitness tool,” says Johannes Scholl.

Want to buy ICAROS? It is an expensive piece of equipment

Since April 1, ICAROS GmbH has been providing the first models for its customers and has therefore adhered exactly to its ambitious schedule. 

In Hamburg, the premium gym Kaifu Lodge is one of the first customers who has mustered up the purchase price of 7,500 euros per ICAROS. As Scholl explained, the customers also include event organizers, producers of virtual reality glasses and even a German airline.

“Our focus at the moment is definitely the B2B sector. That was the strategy from the start,” says Scholl. The B2C sector was therefore not initially targeted, but some private customers have already ordered an ICAROS.

The success is already allowing the developer of ICAROS to think bigger, because under the slogan “ACTIVE VR” the company is planning new devices and new software.

Florian Pertsch (Quelle: ISPO)
Article by Florian Pertsch, author
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