As a kid, the experience of learning how to ride a bicycle is one of the first times you’ll feel a true sense of accomplishment. Having my dad remove the stabilizers from my unsightly, Batman-themed bike without my knowledge, with me then freely scooting around the park before discovering that I was doing so without being assisted, is one of my fondest memories. While cycling is certainly a great way to ensure your child is getting enough exercise, it’s also an invaluable opportunity to bond with them. But now Fisher Price is releasing a range of kid-sized exercise bikes, ensuring that you needn’t bother with ever taking your offspring outdoors ever again!
The Think & Learn Smart Cycle is aimed at 3 to 6 year olds, with it featuring a tablet holder between its handlebars letting kids play games while they cycle. Priced at $150, the Smart Cycle features one free and four paid apps, priced at $4.99 each. You can also plonk it directly in front of the TV, which is how Fisher Price has advertised the product in its promotional material, debuted at CES 2017.
But while the Smart Cycle may ostensibly be used to encourage kids to exercise more frequently, there is definitely something creepily clinical about introducing a technological aspect to something typically associated with the outdoors. Considering that the Smart Cycle can be hooked up to the TV and used as a controller of sorts for a variety of games, with kids encouraged to ride faster in order to obtain high scores, defeat enemies and overcome exercise, it has essentially gamified what should be an inherently rewarding experience in and of itself. By encouraging parents to stand on the sidelines while their children engage in an activity they should rightly be involved in, Fisher Price have attracted a wide array of criticism online, including a tweet from Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker that the Smart Cycle is like “Black Mirror Junior Edition.”
Black Mirror Junior Edition https://t.co/0g374KTvvf
— Charlie Brooker (@charltonbrooker) January 5, 2017
Brooker’s tweet is in reference to the Black Mirror episode ‘Fifteen Million Merits,’ in which people are required to spend extended periods of time on exercise bikes in order to earn money. They are also required to watch advertisements in order to avoid financial penalties, while fat people are looked down upon and humiliated in highly popular game shows.
Along with the apps included with the Smart Cycle, Fisher Price is also set to bring out more via software updates. Parents can also access a dashboard feature that allows them to discover what their children have been learning during their exercise session, which is kinda cool, I guess. The Spring Cycle will launch in the Fall.