McDonald's tests exercise bicycles for customers eating inside

Originally published at: McDonald's tests exercise bicycles for customers eating inside | Boing Boing


So weird. Not actually very useful (you’re not going to burn off a significant number of calories of that excessively caloric food), all it’s likely to do is make eating difficult and unpleasant. It feels very performative. (I guess it makes sense this is in China, then.)


Thanks I hate it


I wonder if these are secretly generators providing electricity to the restaurant.


lol, I didn’t even read the full post before commenting. These are actually generators, and they aren’t even keeping it a secret. Wow. It’s the perfect business: you give money to McD’s for energy in the form of food, but then you give them energy back in the form of exercise, so in effect you just give them money for nothing.


You didn’t even try it, come on…

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Didn’t they have exercise bikes in The Eighties Café in Back To The Future II?

Yet another scarily accurate prediction in that film.


There has never been a better time to encourage heavy, labored breathing while maskless in an indoor area


Is this the first step toward that Black Mirror episode? Will McDonald’s soon be issuing Merits as a reward?


first thing that came to mind


The power generated by pedaling is not likely to be very much. When I was a kid, the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh had a display of light bulbs powered by a stationary bike. It was grueling to get that 100 Watt bulb to even stay lit for just a few seconds.


There might have been some poor grammar in that article. I think they meant you can charge your own personal electronics.


Yeah, I mean, I prefer to jog while eating. Or maybe have a swim…

Sure, because it’s purely performative. The government (and insurance companies) is instituting all sorts of fitness policies, people are fitness conscious, so this is purely to make customers feel like they’re accomplishing something (and look “good” to the government - or at least give cover to the government to pretend they look good). You might be able to recharge your phone a bit (it doesn’t require very much power, and you’d probably struggle to do even that), but it’s not going to generate enough electricity to even remotely be useful to McDonald’s (and it wouldn’t be cost effective for them to even try to make use of it). That would be true even if people were really pushing themselves, and not doing a half-assed peddling while eating. McD’s could generate more power by burning their food waste.

I mean, this is already happening, effectively. Insurance companies in China (and elsewhere) have been offering reduced prices for people who hit daily step goals - this may also be a part of the whole “social credit score” thing in China. Some Chinese cafes offer rocking machines that customers can put their phones in, so it looks like they’re having a jog while they actually sit on their butts. This is just the legitimized version of that.

Which just functions as a reminder that reality is already more dystopian than a lot of dystopian fiction.


Thanks but I prefer to reduce my guilt over unhealthy food choices the old fashioned way: sobbing loudly while eating another Big Mac.


And get your chips for free

Note that this is a phenomenon of Taiwan. I think they are mobilizing for the big one. Only the fittest will survive.


When I’ve been on exercise bikes that have calorie counters, it’s sobering. Work your ass off for 30 minutes, woo-hoo now I can indulge in… less than one beer.


Marketing can’t make McDs appear healthy so an exercise bike will?

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The least they could do is to use those generators to charge your phone.

So… will there be ‘Heimlich Maneuver’ robots on hand as well.
“Ronald McDonald… please call your liability insurance agent.”

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Indeed they do just that.

When I’ve been on exercise bikes that have calorie counters, it’s sobering. Work your ass off for 30 minutes, woo-hoo now I can indulge in… less than one beer.

I think you have hit on the real reason why this is performative. Almost nobody eats that slow that they’d have 30 minutes of biking to charge their phone. Even if it might provide a decent power output for charging a phone (and a phone, as opposed to a laptop might actually be enough). To make it worthwhile you’d have to really blast the bike, and also for an extended period of time. Going that hard would make it hard to eat.

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Yeah, given the half-assed way they’re being used in the video (which is typical, I’m sure, because you really can’t be more vigorous than that and also eat), they’re not getting any benefit at all from the bike. They’re probably burning enough calories to work off the scant quantities of vegetables put on a burger, but that’s about it. (Seriously.) In terms of phone charging, it’s probably comparable to a hand crank, where a couple minutes of work gets you enough power to make a short call, but that’s probably enough to make users feel like they accomplished something and be happy.

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