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This is a two-parter at cross purposes:

  1. I'm interested in converting some gym equipment I have lying around to act as input devices for my computer, and I'm looking for interesting applications. While I can easily generate keystrokes to control any game (walking in World of Warcraft is a popular example), I'm surprised that I'm having a hard time finding more directly applicable games. For example, I'd love to find a cool bicycling simulation program where the brake levers are analog controls. I know a lot of hardcore racing sims have robust APIs to let you add your own custom physical dashboards and controllers to the game; what other interesting examples have you seen?

  2. This one is different. What exercise equipment out there has an open API to let send commands / control various settings programmatically. Example: an exercise bike with programmatically settable resistance through a USB or serial interface. I ask because I have some pretty specific interval programs I'd like to be able to do, but every computerized elliptical/exercise bike/treadmill I have access to at the gym have shortcomings in their built-in programs that don't match exactly what I want to do, and I started fantasizing about making my own controller.

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Part-2 sounds like a biz-opp. Have you looked into flash-gaming websites? (like They have a variety of games of different complexity, that maybe be applicable. – VISQL May 14 '12 at 21:56
Useful question--I hope it doesn't get closed. – jontyc Jan 28 '13 at 9:45
I believe that you can download and use the API for the XBox Kinect module, you could use the recognition routines for that. Other than that, I know that there are people that have "hacked" the hardware of various controllers for different gaming systems to allow for custom routines, there are writeups here and there on the 'net. For some of the bicycle ergometer ones, check out sites like They require powermeters that are ANT+ capable, but they are customisable to an extent. – JohnP Jan 29 '13 at 21:21
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm not sure of any exercise equipment that has an API but I do know you could easily use an Arduino and multiple sensors, build a very simple hardware suite, gather that information and transform your exercise equipment into an input device. For example, the use of bicycle levers as input devices could very easily use a flex sensor or the like.

I know this is a VERY broad answer and a bit different than what you wanted "How to transfer vs. what exists", but this is likely a very cheap, easy and fun way to transform your existing equipment. If you would like more info or help using the Arduino let me know. I can find specific examples for your scenarios if you like.

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