By Michael Hodgson
For the complete story, see GearTrendsÂ® Fitness 2005, p. 16, "Get in the Game"
Though not the first company to marry exercise with a gaming hybrid (Nintendo had a long jumping game as we recall in the early '80s for example), Atari's Project Puffer was the first effort GearTrendsÂ® is aware of that recognized the potential in creating a software market that was developed specifically for exercise bikes and other equipment. Puffer was debuted in 1982, according to internal company memos now available on the web that we will share with you -- www.atarihq.com/othersec/puffer/
Puffer bit the dust when the company was sold in 1984.
Other company news:
>> The Life Fitness Exertainment system was collaboration between Nintendo and Life Fitness. Using a special adapter, a consumer could connect a Super Nintendo to a Lifecycle. If you want to take a look at what the devout Gamers out there also think, take a gander to www.GamersGraveyard.com, a blog that is well-trafficked and even chatted a bit recently about the Life Fitness system.
>> Netpulse, named a Business Week "Best Product of 1999" was introduced to the fitness market in February of 1998.Â The Netpulse concept revolved around creating multimedia exercise systems for clubs that allowed for "surf-and-sweat" workouts. Equipment was pricey ($4,000 per unit). Two other competitors, E-Zone and Xystos, entered the fray too, but soon, all three merged following failed attempts to garner market share by giving away equipment and instead selling monthly services. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
But waitâ€¦Netpulse as of August 2005 is still live on the web and is obviously being kept alive (www.netpulse.com). This description still lives: "Netpulse is the breakthrough product that attracts, motivates and retains members. Members, Advertisers and Health Club Management all love Netpulse for its ability to deliver endless information and entertainment in an interactive, personalized environmentâ€¦.San Francisco-based Netpulse Communications makes this solution for bored exercisers. Called Netpulse Stations, it's a high-tech upgrade for cardiovascular exercise equipment that includes touch-screen, color computers with high-speed connections to the Internet."
>> Tectrix and its VR Bike, which was bought by Cybex/Trotter in 1998 and then died a not-so-slow death, is also kept alive on the web by a devotee. Go here to see it: www.tulrich.com/tectrixvr/ . Shoot, it's even called a "Tribute Page" with the headline "Viva Tectrix VR"! Then there's the original Tectrix website being kept alive by a former employee: www.refstar.com/tectrix/index.htmlÂ
Don't miss the full story, "Get in the Game," in the GearTrendsÂ® Fitness 2005 issue. To download the full issue, go to www.geartrends.com/magazines.