Learn about our company and the development of the Virtual Runner solution.
Outside Interactive was founded by Gary McNamee in 2011. After enduring yet another boring treadmill run in a typically harsh New England winter while in preparation for the Boston Marathon, Gary thought, “what if I could film the course and view it while I ran on my treadmill?” And just like that, Outside Interactive was born.
After compiling research about the latest technologies in videography (and a LOT of trial and error) Gary successfully filmed the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to Boston and other popular running routes by refining the videography and editing process to produce the smoothest views of the course seen from a runner’s perspective. Each course was filmed multiple times and the use of post-production editing allowed for multiple speeds of the video to be adjusted without either a fast forward or slow motion effect. Initially the end product was runners being able to select the pace they wished to run with pre-paced videos.
Not satisfied with this solution, Gary took the idea one step further. “What if the video speed could actually be controlled interactively by the pace of the runner?” So Gary set out to make this happen.
This approach proved to be much more of a challenge. But Gary has a knack for staying on course and taking a different approach to problem solving as evidenced in his two prior companies. He determined that this solution had to be simple and not require any special treadmill. It had to work with the equipment the runner already owned.Using a dozen of his closest running friends as guinea pigs, Gary developed a software solution called Virtual Runner.
Virtual Runner is an application that works with a footpod that the runner attaches to his/her shoelace. The footpod communicates with a USB receiver attached to the runner’s laptop, PC, iPad or Tablet. Wireless data from the footpod transmits the runner’s pace and controls the speed of the video through this software. If a runner does not have a footpod, the speed can be adjusted manually for iPad and Tablet users.
For those searching for a new treadmill, today's equipment offers a wide variety of exciting new features including connected fitness, linking to your favorite applications, including us! These smart treadmills allow for two way "bi-directional" communication, allowing Virtual Runner to control incline and resistance to simulate hills along the courses, while also adjusting video speed to your exact pace on your tablet, allowing for a truly interactive immersive experience. Compatible brands can be found HERE. It's the next best thing to being there!
Moving forward, the goal of Outside Interactive is to continue offering many different popular running routes, scenic courses and marquee races. Through this interactive video experience, runners are able to preview race courses, learn the landmarks or just enjoy the scenery in an effort to improve the treadmill experience all at their own pace.
“If you find it difficult to get motivated to run on your treadmill and you want to overcome the boredom of running indoors, the Virtual Runner Software is the answer.”
“I have worked in the fitness equipment industry for the last 16 years and have been reviewing treadmills for the last 8 years. Outside Interactive is offering an alternative to the boredom of running in place on your treadmill. Let’s face it, running on a treadmill is a drag in comparison to running outdoors, and the boredom often discourages people to use their treadmills. Outside Interactive offers the perfect solution, the Virtual Runner Software – a visual running experience through famous routes. With the use of a footpod you put on your shoe, you can run and watch your progress on a monitor or a HDTV. The video moves in conjunction with the speed of the runner. It is as close as you are going to get to actually running outdoors, and it makes running in place thrilling.”
“This is truly a game changer, running over 18 hours a day for 7 days while chasing the records, my biggest challenge was boredom. Outside Interactive has made great strides in making treadmill running more engaging and fun.”
“This is very cool, “I actually feel like I’m on the course. With all the twists and turns, it’s like chapters in a book. You feel like you’re making progress. Without realizing it, you’re an hour in. That’s cool.”
“Having 3 little ones and training for New York hasn’t been easy, but when I’m inside on the treadmill, your Virtual Runner Software makes it some much more enjoyable. Thank you.”
“Your Virtual Runner product is AMAZING. Time flew by. It actually keeps me on the treadmill longer. I have Apple TV and am looking forward to your iPad version. Central Park on the big screen will be cool!”
“I tried the Pre-Paced DVD and just upgraded to the Virtual Runner Software. I love the interaction. Even better is it works with my existing treadmill. Can’t wait for more videos!”
“I just ran the Charles River Pre-Paced DVD and am ordering the rest. I’ll get to bring a bit of home with me when I’m next deployed”
“Just ran a 10K in Central Park. Awesome! The software even stored my course PR. Can’t wait to try to break it!”
“The interaction with the video is amazing! Time flew by!”
“Growing up on Cape Cod, I used to run the Falmouth Road Race Course all the time. Now that I’m in Nebraska, I can still run the course virtually anytime.”
“The time just flew by. You actually feel like your making progress.”
“It’s about time someone came up with this idea. I used it training for the Boston Marathon this year. Knowing the course ahead of time and feeling the elevation of Heartbreak Hill on my own treadmill was great training for the real thing on race day.”