Virtual runner app lets runners experience exotic courses

If you find yourself dreading the treadmill, a new iPad app might just be the thing to change your mind.

If you find yourself dreading the treadmill, a new iPad app might just be the thing to change your mind.

Outside Interactive, a Boston-based startup and developer of forward motion video software technology for treadmill runners, has created a Virtual Runner app for the iPad that allows viewers to run popular running routes virtually all from the safety and comfort of their own treadmill. The high definition videos are shot from a runner’s point of view and allow the runner to interactively view different virtual running routes as if they were on the course itself.

“The idea is to work with any treadmill and iPad,” said Gary McNamee, Outside Interactive’s president and founder, in a statement. “Running on a treadmill can be a very boring experience for many. Our idea is to make the experience more engaging allowing users to learn different race courses before running the race, or view popular running routes of locations such as Central Park or the Washington Mall, or even scenic destinations such as Bali or the Australian Outback, all interactively while at home, at the gym, or on the road.”

Once you download the app and your selected course videos, you connect a footpod to your shoelace and plug a wireless receiver into your iPad or iPad mini. Once the app is launched, there is a brief countdown and then the course video begins to play on the iPad or HDTV using Apple Airplay.

While running, the footpod transmits your stats to the iPad, and the receiver then sends this information to the Virtual Runner software, which adjusts the speed of the video. If you run faster, the video will speed up. If you slow down, the video will slow down, all to your pace. In addition, an on-screen dashboard displays overall time, average pace, distance run and cadence. (There’s also an option for a heart rate monitor.)

The audio component contains the actual natural sounds captured when the footage was shot, which are not affected by speed change, but you have the option to listen to your own music playlist. You an also start anywhere along a given route, so if you’re hankering to run the full 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston but not quite ready for a marathon, you can break it up over several runs.

The Virtual Runner app is available for $9.99 at the iTunes Store with the videos ranging from $4.99 to $9.99 and up for noted races and marathons.

To see a sample of the videos, visit the following links: