This virtual reality flying machine is good fun and a great workout

VR that gets you fit? THE DREAM

This week, we’re at the enormous tech tradeshow CES 2016 in Las Vegas, bringing you the latest, coolest and most exciting new technology straight from the show floor. Find out more here, and see what we’ve covered so far here

You might have noticed that we’re very into our virtual reality here at Gadgette. From interviewing big VR companies to hosting events where you can try out the latest developments, we can’t get enough. So when we found Icaros at CES, we were smitten.

With the compelling strapline of “Plug in. Zone out. Get ripped,” Icaros is a virtual reality flying machine that lets you soar through imaginary worlds while getting a pretty good workout. If that’s not living the dream, we don’t know what is.

Named after the Greek fable, Icaros takes a little bit of time to get used to, but once we got the hang of it, we were hooked. You can tell from the classic “VR face” I’m pulling here (somewhere between amazement and lobotomy):

You kneel on the knee pads, rest on the arm pads and grab the bar at the front. Then you put the headset on (Samsung Gear VR in this case), and play a flying game that you steer with your body. The machine feels like you’re really floating in space, and it’s very intuitive to steer by moving your shoulders and hips. In the demo I tried, you’re soaring over mountains and alpine scenery, trying not to faceplant the snow while you’re getting used to the controls.

Here’s one of the other volunteers giving it a try:

There are three buttons at the front that you control with your fingers, for speeding up, slowing down and switching in and out of the experience. I felt a bit sick after a while, but I think that was more to do with not having a complete handle on the controls – I kept speeding up too much or moving too far. Once you’d had some practice we’d expect that to go away.

And as for whether it actually gives you a workout – oh yes. But the best thing is, you don’t notice at all. So I came off the machine with wobbly, exercised legs and a thoroughly crunched core, but I hadn’t noticed myself working those muscles. I was just playing the game. And I only tried it for a few minutes – if you got into a game for half an hour or so, you’d be ripped in no time.

Icaros isn’t really designed for home users – the creators told us they’re aiming it at arcades and entertainment spaces for now. But if we could have one of these in our living rooms, we’d probably never go outside. Especially if there was a game that let you be Iron Man. The future is amazing.

Main image: Icaros

Holly Brockwell
About Holly Brockwell 291 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.