How do we increase enrollment in a summer bike program? How do we help kids get over their fear of getting on a bike and riding their bikes in the city?

Cymulator is a wooden installation to help enrollment for Cyclopedia, a non-profit organization for kids in underserved families to ride bicycles, exercise, explore neighborhoods and make friends.

Cymulator is essentially a bike ride simulator. It allows kids to ride a stationary bike while watching a responsive video from a first-person point of view biker. The speed of the pedaling determines how fast the video plays, the faster or slower you pedal, the video will speed up or slow down.



Processing, Arduino

Concept, Code & Design: Merrilee Pan & Chuchu Wang

Parsons Playtech, Immersive Storytelling Symposium



Early Prototype

In our beginning stages, we role played someone sitting on a seat, pretending to ride a bicycle to a video of a first-person bike camera.

We received positive feedback from the experience but wanted to enhance the experience by trying to actually build it out.


Parsons Playtech

We got kids from Playtech which is an event held by Parsons inviting high school kids to play games and interactive multimedia projects made by school students.

In our efforts to build out Cymulator, we first started with building the technology using a magnetic sensor to the wheel, connected to Arduino and the video playback on Processing.

Since we were unable to build out the physical bike stand, we decided to just flip the bike upside down and our users would turn the bike peddles using their hands.


The feedback from Playtech was well received, which encouraged and motivated us to continue on building Cymulator.



Since our bike sensor technology was working well, we began physically building the bike stand using low materials such as rolling pins.

After building a rough physical prototype, we had the opportunity to test our bike with kids from PS 198 in East Harlem.


The kids were really excited to ride the bicycle and they did not even realize that there was a video projection in front of them in the beginning.

The bicycle was really difficult to pedal because of the friction caused by the back wheel and the rolling pins.


Immersive Storytelling Symposium

Then we brought this project to Immersive Storytelling Symposium held by NYC Media Lab where people could ride on the bike to explore either New York City streets or Central Park.

We decided to rebuild our bike stand so that it will be easier to pedal by propping up the back wheel.


Next Steps

We want to start incorporating responsive steering so that the user can have more control of the video.

Cymulator’s application can also be transferred to the fitness industry such as Spin Cycle classes.