Sometimes, it’s not enough to stimulate the eyes and ears.
To truly engage all the senses, you need to look beyond the VR headset or gaming console.
Toward a full-on piece of (often room-sized) hardware that deftly replicates the world’s most famous racing tracks or golf courses — all while offering full-body feedback.
Herein, the eight best immersive gaming and fitness simulators money can buy.
Be forewarned: you’ll need a lot of $$$ to own these, but some might argue it’s a small price to pay to drive, fly or play with the best … from the comfort of your home.
Image via Classic Car Club Manhattan
Racing: TL3 Synthetic Racing
Conceived with the help of Formula 1 teams, the TL3 features a 200-degree, panoramic projection screen and fully variable driving position supported by three-axis motion (pitch, roll and heave), extremely realistic track reproduction (around 200 of ‘em) and your choice of 40 different cars. As of now, you can only find ‘em in the U.S. at the Classic Car Club Manhattan, though you can contact Motion Simulation in the UK about outfitting your own room.
Golf (and other sports): HD Golf
No need to worry about the weather: this popular indoor golf simulator is custom-fit to your home’s specifications, and allows you to play the (virtual) likes of Pebble Beach and St. Andrews from the safety of home — while still experiencing each course’s specific idiosyncrasies and hazards. Need help? The simulator can be utilized as an interactive coaching system. As well, the company also offers the HD Multi-Sport system, which adds wall-sized, life-like soccer, baseball and hockey experiences to your living room.
Climbing: Valo Motion
An augmented reality device that projects climbing routes and interactive games onto a climbing wall (sold separately, but they’ll help hook you up). They also recently released an AR/trampoline hybrid called ValoJump.
Gyroscopic fitness equipment with a VR assist, the Icaros allows you to get a full workout as you fly, drive and compete in assorted games.
Boxing: Bot Boxer
A robotic boxing and martial-arts machine complete with a smart, “faster than a world champion” punching bag. Available now for preorder, it’s by SkyTechSport, the same team behind several popular ski and snowboard simulators.
Gym Workouts: Mirror and Tonal
Both of these at-home systems offer on-demand video workouts and personal coaching through a screen you hang on the wall — the former is more aesthetically appealing and based around HIIT workouts, while the latter is more of a weightroom experience. Either way, it’s like getting a high-end fitness class without leaving your living room.
Cheap Thrills: Feel Three
Now taking preorders on Kickstarter, the Feel Three a customizable gaming cockpit with 100 degrees of pitch. It offers full-body feedback over hundreds of racing/flying VR games, all for just a few thousands dollars (though the usual caveats about crowdfunded projects apply).
And the rest…
What’s it like to shoot a tank? Maybe you can convince KMW, a German armored vehicle company, to sell you some high-end gunnery and combat simulators. It’s probably not operational, but this (used) Vacuum System Space Simulation Chamber was used to test parts under space conditions … maybe a little know-how can help you experience the weightless wonders of space. Worried about getting stuck in a hostage situation, or want to improve your marksmanship? Smart builds an array of virtual firearms training machines.
Main image via BotBoxer
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