Virtual reality is touching just about every little corner of modern life, and if you have a particular hobby or interest, you can bet VR will interest with it in one way or another before too long. Kayaking, as you’d probably guess, definitely isn’t any different. And while currently the VR experiences involved with this particular type of boating and exercise are few and far between, there are compelling reasons to believe there will be all sorts of VR kayaking opportunities in a matter of years.
VR & Physical Fitness
If you haven’t heard about how much VR is impacting the world of fitness, it’s perfectly understandable. Most of the attention paid to VR concerns video games, and really just a handful of those. At the same time though, fitness has proven to be one of the most exciting categories within VR innovation, and perhaps the one with the most short-term growth potential. There is in fact already a very active website dedicated entirely to VR fitness, which about a year ago identified 15 VR fitness games that provided total body workouts. No individual one is relevant to kayaking, but this gives you an idea of the scope of VR fitness already.
More in the kayak-related space, we are seeing VR games paired with physical, real-world equipment for the sake of fitness also. For instance, a variety of programs already exists for cycling, and a few brand new workout machines have been invented just for VR. This all goes to show how a piece of equipment similar to a rowing machine, paired with VR kayaking experiences, could fit into the fitness space.
VR & Exploration
Exploration is a fuzzier category that fitness, but it’s fair to say that in various ways VR is helping people explore new environments both artificial and real. On the artificial front, exploration comes through gaming, in which some of the most convincing experiences are more about environment than gameplay. A game called Gonzo’s Quest is a primary example here. Featured for free at arcade sites online, it’s actually a real digital slot machine, yet one that’s been enhanced via graphics and VR alike to give players the feeling that they’re participating in its theme of exploring ancient Peru. Pure exploration has turned a game as simple as a slot machine into a VR hit. Meanwhile, on the more realistic front, we’re starting to see an entire range of travel booking and information sites helping users to walk through environments across the world in VR.
It’s through these examples that you can start to get a feel for a hypothetical VR experience involving kayaking but having nothing to do with fitness. The technology can help users explore in two ways: first, though touring actual bodies of water around the world, either via renderings or exact images from sources like Google Earth; second, through entirely fictional settings that would nonetheless be fun, interesting, and peaceful to examine via virtual kayaking.
Early Kayaking In VR
This is not ultimately a category that’s taken off just yet, but there are some early examples of kayaking in VR. Various users have demonstrated kayaking while strapped into a Samsung Gear VR, and a game called VRapids has already demonstrated some of the creativity that might come into play, offering the experience of canoeing in wild 1800s North America (though this is canoeing rather than kayaking specifically). These early applications may not have a ton to offer the average kayaker just yet, but they do indicate that there are developers out there interested in this specific space. Given this, as well as some of the VR areas already being explored, mentioned above, it’s not going to be too much longer before VR kayaking is an exciting concept.