Zwift has announced the latest addition to its popular virtual cycling platform called Play, allowing users to control their ride from the handlebars.
“Until now, the easiest way to control the Zwift experience has been through Zwift Companion app,” says Zwift. “With most setups designed to optimise cooling and to maximise screen size, controls for the majority of Zwift have been at arm’s length. Zwift Play aims to unlock the benefits of game interaction for more Zwifters by placing full control at their fingertips.”
The Play controllers attach to each side of the handlebar via a silicone strap, positioning them alongside the shifters, allowing easy access to the controllers’ multi-button functions.
“A directional pad on the left controller allows for seamless navigation of game menus and also enables Zwifters to select turns or U-turn while exploring Zwift’s virtual worlds,” explains Zwift.
“Shortcut buttons placed on the right controller are laid out in a familiar configuration allowing Zwifters to keep their eyes on the road. Buttons allow riders to make selections in menus but when riding act as shortcuts to give Ride Ons, deploy PowerUps, skip workout blocks, teleport to Pacer Groups, and more,” adds Zwift.
Additionally, the Play controllers feature paddles that provide steering and braking. For instance, by moving the paddle inwards applies the brakes, while outwards resumes steering mode.
In addition, Zwift says it plans to add haptic feedback, allowing the controllers to be paired using PowerUps, when receiving RideOns, returning a RideOn and giving a RideOn bomb. Also, the controllers are sweat-resistant and run off lithium-ion batteries that offer approximately 20 hours of ride time before recharging. Moreover, the controllers can be recharged while riding.
Zwift says it tested over 400 bikes with different handlebars and shifters and found that its Play fitted 97.6% of them, while the prototypes underwent rigorous sweat testing as well as button press tests upwards of 200,000 actuations.
Lastly, given the limited Bluetooth connections available on Apple TV devices, Zwift says its companion app can be used in order to create a bridge.
The Zwift Play controllers are available for purchase in the United States for the introductory price $99, with the goal of getting as many users onboard during the initial roll-out.
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