Wednesday, December 23, 2009

gDitty Comes Out of Hiding

An early Christmas present came to me this afternoon.  After writing about wanting to see the newer gDitty prototypes,  Maurina Venturelli, Web Communications and Social Media Consultant tweeted the Flickr set you see above.  It looks like they posted the album today! Now that's what I call a responsive Web 2.0 / Social Networking team.  In the pictures you see some pre-product shots and designs as well as what appears to be family focus groups and even some storyboarding / brainstorming sessions.

There is an intriguing shot of what appears to be simple push-activated lights on the floor. I'm trying to figure out why they would do this activity and it also reminds me of a toy by Wild Planet called Hyper Dash.  Using RFID tags in numbered mini- pucks, the object is to hit the correctly called number or color in the least amount of time possible.  I was contacted by Dan Botnick and he was generous enough to send out some Hyper Dash, Hyper Jump and Animal Scramble for me to try out in the lab and with my students.  Amazingly, college-aged students loved it as much as the children we work with. 

Thanks again to @HopeLab for rolling out these photos and I look forward to seeing any more peaks into the R&D of gDitty.  Happy Holidays!

ExerGames For Therapy... for Students with Disabilities NCTI 2009

And here is the rest of it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

gDitty Visits the White House

Having held the original gDittty prototype last year after meeting Ellen LaPointe, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships from HopeLab, it's good to see this device  finally getting more attention.  In this SmartPlanet video, they show the earlier gDitty along with Nicole Guthrie, a nutritionist at HopeLab. At last year's Games for Health Conference in Boston, I also caught up with Richard Tate, Director, Communications and Marketing at HopeLab.  Click here to read my interview with Richard @ G4H09.
 I was also contacted by a parent of a teenager who participated in two of the trials in California and they gave me their impressions of the device, web-service, and social-networking features. Let's just say that's why you need focus groups to work out the bugs and technical issues.  I've seen some newer images of the gDitty and it appears to be smaller  - but I'd love to have some "leaked" images to post.

Richard Ross, 12, of San Francisco , holds his gDitty device, made by HopeLab as he speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 30, 2009, prior to President Barack Obamadelivering remarks highlighting innovative non-profit programs.

The work that HopeLab does is amazing and their constant push to assess their products/programs in order to  inform better practice is what we in education should always strive for. I think that many groups such as HopeLab could benefit from having someone on their team with a background in physical activity, physical education or education in general in addition to their already talented group.  It stems from the fact that many research projects - especially interventions that target physical activity, games, and youth, - lack someone who's background can help in the programming and implementation success.  Physical educators strive to create positive and safe learning environments that are developmentally appropriate for the skill levels and abilities of the students. We use pedagogically sound teaching practices to help students achieve the intended learning objectives and we strive to provide timely, specific, and congruent feedback that helps to motivate and inform the student on their progress.  Call me crazy - but that's what we do.  En tout cas....

For more information, follow them on Twitter @HopeLab - most of the tweets will be coming from Maurina Venturelli, Web Communications and Social Media Consultant.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yari Mobile Exergaming Let's You Take Your Workout With You

Thanks to DDR Diva for catching the latest technology for mobile exergaming - the Sony Ericsson Yari phone. 

Some games that are proposed to be on the Yari includes boxing, basic body exercises (squats, lunge) and even bowling. From the video, it looks like it using the mobile's video camera to track movement. Still not sure if you have to swing around like some of the iPhone games featured earlier.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

SciRAVE Hands-On (Matt Outen)

Here is the beginning of my post.

I gave my student Matt the assignment of playing SciRAVE and to put together a little movie from the different screenshots that he created.

SciRAVE is a pretty cool idea: take a fun game like DDR or Guitar Hero and have the songs be about Science topics. The game works like any Dance Dance Revolution game, you have to step on the matching arrows as they rise to the top of the screen. The arrows rise to the beat of the song, in this case science songs. The goal of this game is to teach children concepts of science while they are playing an enjoyable game. The only problem I have with the game is that the words are too hard to understand for most songs. Also, so much focus is going into hitting the arrows at the right time that there is little time to focus on the lyrics. Other than that it's a pretty fun game. You can check it out at:

And here is the rest of it.

Browser Pong...ExerGame Idea

A new post caught my eye for the possibility of a new exergame using existing technology that works already really well for web-based games (e.g. Pop Cap Games)....FootGaming.   FootGaming  is Judy Shasek's incredible invention and system for increasing physical activity at home, in schools, and in the community (workplace & recreation).  It is very versatile and works with the hundreds of PopCap Games or any other browser-based game like those available at Playnormous (featured by one of my students)

Browser Pong is a simple
flash browser-based game that uses tiny windows (non-maximized) to create the Pong paddles and ball.

WIBC - Wouldn't It Be Cool to get a FootGaming controller and hook it up to your browser to play Browser Pong.  Although not that much of a stretch - it gives people more games to play (get up and move) within a minimalistic set-up.

I was thrilled to have met Judy last year at the Games For Health Exergame Summit in Maine. I've always been blown away by her vision and to hear more stories and strategies she's used was inspiring.  Be sure to find more options and lesson plans at

Step a Little More My Friends, That's All It Takes. Shalom

[Via Kotaku]

Saturday, December 19, 2009

ExerGame Experts wish you "Healthy Holidays" with Video Games

The holiday season is always a health rollercoaster. We eat too much, watch too much TV and exercise too little and then make New Years resolutions that we can’t keep. This year, make a change with Exergaming. The ExerGame Network (TEN) reveals five ways of getting fit with video games, perfect for school kids to silver gamers with the focus on fun.
The good news for these holidays is you can over-indulge in fitness and fun by Exergaming. Exergaming is the combination of video games and exercise, ideal for a fun, social way to keep fit during the festive period. The Exergame Network brings you five Exergaming methods to suit everyone regardless of their age, ability or fitness level.

Most health and fitness resolutions revolve around dieting and joining a gym, but this doesn’t work for everyone. So what about the rest of us, those that dislike gyms, dieting, boot camps or just find conventional fitness boring?

Exergaming succeeds because it makes exercise fun and involving. The exercise seems less difficult and second to the enjoyment of playing. Choosing the right style of Exergaming is vital in making it fun for you! The following CREWS list is a ‘something for everyone’ selection from five Exergaming catagories (for an interactive tour visit CREWS):

1. *C*amera Exergaming: Your whole body becomes the controller as your movements are motion captured into the game (Eyetoy Kinetic/Groove/Antigrav, Your Shape, Project Natal, Trazer 2)

2. *R*hythm Exergaming: Become the musician or dancer and be guided by the music while the exergame records your dance steps or your musical timing. (Rock Band, Guitar Hero, We Cheer, DDR & iDANCE)

3. *E*xergaming Machines: Using real fitness equipment, the fun of the games takes your mind of the exercise. (Gamercize, Gamebike, Fitclub, GameCycle, BrainBike & Espresso Bikes)

4. *W*orkout Exergaming: Follow your virtual personal trainer as they guide you through your workout giving feedback on your form and storing your progress. (Yourself Fitness!, EA Sports Active, The Biggest Loser, Your Shape & Wii Fit/Plus)

5. *S*ensory Exergaming: These commercial exergames get you jumping and running for your score. (Lightspace Play, Makoto, SmartUs & TWall)

TEN reminds you to think of ‘CREWS’ as an amazing way to engage, motivate and sustain exercise over your lifetime! To discover more about Exergaming, get practical advice and more information from TEN or connect with us on twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Now enjoy what some of the leaders on Exergaming have to say and how Exergaming can truly benefit everyone!


“In Physical Education, we strive to provide a safe and positive learning environment that supports the needs and abilities of our students. Exergaming, in its many forms, is available in schools (before and after-school), at home, and in the community and thus has the potential to impact students physically, cognitively, and socially”. Stephen Yang, Ph.D-ABD, M.S., B.S., Co-Director ExerGame Lab, Assistant Professor, State University of New York College at Cortland.

“Exergaming Machines are a time saving way to keep me fit. Last week I clocked up over 9 hours of genuine cardio, just by playing the latest Xbox release! It is important that everyone finds the Exergaming method that works for them, if you enjoy the activity there’s more chance of keeping at it and reaching the fitness benefits. Nothing kept in the back of the cupboard will improve health.” Richard Coshott, Gamercize Founder and CEO.

“People who normally don’t like to be physically active are willing to try Exergaming because it’s FUN. Parents tell me that this is the first time they’ve seen their kids sweat this much, and they don’t want to stop playing the exergames! Exergaming is the best intervention for the (couch potato), and introduces physical activity that’s fun for the first time in their lives.” Ernie Medina, Jr., DrPH, CHFS, preventive care specialist, Beaver Medical Group; CEO & (Exergaming Evangelist), MedPlay Technologies.

“Exergaming offers an alternative method of increasing heart-rate and building muscle bulk for those with disabilities. Real-world boxing, for example, offers an excellent aerobic workout for many able-bodied individuals, however is impossible for many with disabilities. Video-game based boxing, however, allows for simulated boxing with an avatar that is safe and achievable, while simultaneously being aerobically challenging.” Sheryl Flynn, PT, PhD, Co-Founder

About The Exergame Network (TEN)
TEN is a not-for-profit advocacy group (not affiliated with Games for Health) which promotes an active and healthy lifestyle by combining video game technologies and exercise, known as Exergaming. Exergaming is proving to be an excellent way to increase motivation, energy expenditure and overall fitness. TENis a collaboration of dedicated health and fitness practitioners, exergame developers, researchers and clinicians, health and fitness entrepreneurs and passionate individuals devoted to highlighting the best solutions offered by exergaming.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pong Prom Promotes Dancing

I love love love these neat projects as they showcase how technology can get us moving again - plus Pong is such a universally known and loved game. In Pong Prom, you hold your partner in the typical "closed" formation however at each contact point there is conductive fabric which completes an Arduino circuit. While you look at your partner's chest, tilt your partner to one side or the other (like normal Pong) and the accelerometer at the back of the neck detects the side to side motion and adjust the paddle accordingly. I like how this Dept. of Covert Athletics is thinking and I wish there were more groups and projects to work with.  Dance on my friends!  Flickr stream for Pong Prom

Pong Prom from Ed Keeble on Vimeo. And here is the rest of it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

PC Fit Anywhere

The latest entry into the exergaming world, PC Fit seems to be a meld of many ideas but uses simple technology including a typical dance pad connected via USB.  It includes 5 games like Wack-A-Mole, Step Aerobics, some water plugging game.
PC Fit is a portable fitness centre; where ever there is a PC you can work out, at home, in the office, even from your lap top. You set your personalised fitness program and PC Fit will help you lose weight, tone up, increase your stamina or even improving your muscle tone.
It's unclear if this is also playable on PS2 as indicated on one of the press release images.  It's main function appears to be the the fitness program and tracking options ( a la Ubisoft) but it appears to lack some real gaming options.  As in the many mini exergaming products and technology that have flooded the market recently, will this one survive and  rise to the top of the heap? (Price undetermined)

And here is the rest of it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bringing Back Taiko Drums

Finally the legend of Taiko drummer will live for another generation to enjoy.  Reminds me of a guy playing Taiko Drums in an arcade in Seoul, South Korea.  I was invited to speak at the 2009 Serious Games Festival and it was really well run with a lot of government support and infrastructure for the booming gaming industry. Keep on drummin'!

FXB: Fun Xercise Bike

[Updated 04/01/2017]

The Wii spawned yet another peripheral that for a low cost ($99 + S/H) will change the way in which you play your favorite games.  Unlike the Gamercize products, which their company quotes, the FXB  is not a Movement Mediated ExerGaming device (MMEG), rather it is just a lightweight bike that has a place to attach a Mario Cart Steering Wii Wheel and a simple cycle mechanism (un-attached to the game system). It is in a category of devices called Non-Meidiated ExerGaming (NMEG)  It says it can hold up to 250lbs but it looks kind of small.  Only one way to tell, let's see if they want to send one to the ExerGame Lab for some testing.

And here is the rest of it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Muscle March Crashes Through Walls

Almost too funny to be true, but this WiiWare game Muscle March is part comedy part Japanese game show.  It revolves around muscular male cartoons running through walls; however, you are playing a character that is following the lead muscle-head and you must position your arms (via Wii Motes) in that same position once you approach the wall.  If you don't do it properly and in time, you smash into the wall.

Wouldn't It Be Cool (WIBC) if... had to use 4 controllers and attach the other two to your legs and now you've got full-bodied interaction.  It's almost like the WiiWare game Helix except not a rhythm game.

[Via Kotaku]

Here are more clips of Muscle March in action.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

FriiBoard is not Free

Have you ever lost your balance while playing Wii Balace Board games?  I have, and a new peripheral called the FriiBoard for the Balance Board will soon make those occurrences more frequent. Now I'll really have to clear the space around the TV to make sure I don't smash into something after losing my balance. Company owners Gail & Tom Stewart said:

"What was lacking was realistic sport-specific ‘movement’ off the screen to go with the action on the screen. We developed FriiBoard™ to bring the realistic movement of your favorite sports indoors to your favorite Wii™ games."

We'd love to test out the FriiBoard here in the ExerGame Lab  to see if it lives up to its claim to provide a more "real" gaming experience.  It would obviously help one's proprioception in terms of balance and stability tasks, however is the rocking mechanism too great and how does the bubble distribute one's center of pressure and affect excursions.  I guess we'll just have to wait until later this month once it starts shipping.

MRSP $50 will get you off-center or if you're looking to improve your golf swing try the company's Swing Stick which places the Wii mote at the end of a shortend club shaft.  I wonder how the weight of the club feels while swinging.  I still have cheap plastic attachments for the Wii, XaviX Golf, and GameTrak Real World Golf here in the ExerGame Lab, so I'm interested to see how the sensors (especially Motion Plus works with the the Swing Stick especially since it's supposed to be 1:1 motion recognition.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Urban Defender Conquers City

What have you done in the past 12 days?  Well this group in Zurich at the Zurich University of Arts, Departement of Interaction Design, created the Urban Defender as part of the Embodied Interaction Advanced HS 2009 in just 12 days.  The team members (Karmen Franinovic, Max Rheiner, Dondup Shelkar, Philipp Läubli, & Nino Cometti) lay out in great detail how they conceptualized the game, interaction, and physical components.  The goal of the game is simple: "try to conquer as many quarters as possible, reinforce these quarters and defend them against other players."

In the concept video (below), I like how the computer interface changes as the players race around the playing area and tag their zones.  It's quite possibly one of the first physically interactive, ubiquitous computing, applications  I've seen.  We have seen many mobile-based ubiquitous computing applications, but most of those have been location based and location recognition.  Using a ball to interact with the physical environment in a public space is pure brilliance.  In some ways it reminds me of the Japanese group that created Shoot-ball (anyone remember that?)  I would love to try this one out on our campus or in town.  Anyone up for a little UD?

And here is the rest of it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

WiiWaa(nt) Stuffed Animals

Sweedish game company Zoink Games posted a video for a puppet enhanced Wii game called WiiWaa.  Although it is uncertain when or if this game/peripheral/wiiware will come out, it looks to use a stuffed animal/puppet with a Wiimote placed inside of it. Then the child would shake and twist the animal to interact with the game features.  Interestingly, pulling on its' ears simulated a boomerang-type action - I'm not sure how the Wiimote would recognize that action.  I'm also curious to see the purpose of those little pins that the boy puts on to the front of his WiiWaa (and if the game recognizes them).

[Via Kotaku]

Skate & Shred in your living room

Instead of paying $100+ bucks for The Ride, or $500 for the iJoy board, why not try this $30 Wii peripheral to get active with all your older Shaun White, Tony Hawk and maybe even Whirl Tour. [Via Ubergizmo]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Punchin' Rock Band & Guitar(less) Hero

Norwegian Morten Skogly felt that playing Rock Band 2 wasn't hard enough, not close to playing a real guitar and nowhere near physical enough.  So in this intricate teardown and DIY hack at his website, you see what it takes (besides patience and technical skills) to make playing Rock Band's guitar part closer to the real experience ...with the exception of another person punching you in your arm instead of strumming yourself.  Wouldn't it make more sense to hit the other arm since it wouldn't impede your frettin' hand.  I can see how this game is kind of similar to Scott Saponas Guitar Hero Without Guitar experiment.  WIBC - Although if they refine Scott's EMG sensors (to pick up EMG traces) for individuals without finger mobility and then replace the strum feature with a mouth controller - now that would be cool! Hacker - get to work! Definitely an Able Gamers project. 

[Via Joystiq, Procrastineering, & Pappmaskin]

And here is the rest of it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Football Hero = Future of ExerGaming

In what can only be described as one of the largest multiplayer exergame / exertion interface / hacks around, the Kasabian Football Hero project is the mecca and future of ExerGming.  Football Hero is a three-story high projection system that involves five different colored players kicking balls at their designated colored targets attached to a wall. Kickin' & Rockin' the night away! [Via Gizmodo]

And here is the rest of it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Honda's Bicycle Simulator for Safe Travels

Speaking of bikes that improve health, look at what Honda has created to teach cyclists about road hazards and proper bike safety - the Honda's Bicycle Simulator. What ever happened to the good old bike rodeos when you took your bike to a closed parking lot and have the police and fire departments, or recreation staff teach you the proper techniques. BTW - We went to one last spring and we got a free (perfectly-fitted) kids helmet, Sweet. The release date is scheduled for February 2010. One of the more interesting bits of technology is a "walking sensor" to detect when the user gets off the bike to simulate walking across an intersection. I wonder if it will be infrared or if there is a sensor in the seat...? Either way, learning how to go to the grocery store or school can now be simulated. Well when you think about where many schools and shopping areas are built (away from typical single family housing and traditional downtown) one might question whether or not the virtual world will in fact help the real world scenario.
[Via Ubergizmo & Honda]

And here is the rest of it.
In recent years, the total number of fatalities from traffic accidents has declined in Japan. However, the ratio of fatalities in accidents involving bicycles has increased. Bicycle riders aged 10 – 19 in and above the age of 50 have the highest chance to get involved in an accident, and approximately 70 percent of bicycle accidents are caused by violation of traffic rules.

Leveraging the know-how accumulated through its activities to promote traffic safety since 1964, Honda has been developing and selling motorcycle and automobile simulators since 1996 and 2001, respectively, as traffic safety educational devices which enable users to safely experience the risks based on real-world traffic situations. By offering these simulators, Honda’s goal is to improve people’s ability to predict risks and increase safety awareness. Striving to realize a richer mobility society in the future, Honda developed the Honda Bicycle Simulator as an educational tool for a wider range of people.

Key features of the Honda Bicycle Simulator

· Compact design (length 2,270mm × height 1,400mm × width 990mm, weight 88kg)
· Equipped with monitors to check right/left and behind.
· Equipped with a “walking sensor” which recognizes the user’s action of walking the bicycle.


· Contains different courses such as “going to school,” “going to the grocery store,” “going to cram school” and “going to a local shopping street” to offer realistic experiences for user groups of different ages.
· Contains a course for the user to learn traffic laws and manners to ride a bicycle in mixed traffic.
· After the simulation, the rider’s path can be reviewed from multiple vantage points – above/below and right/left – and the riding situation and evaluation will be displayed on the monitor.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

BrainBike XG for Stronger Mind & Body

Exergame Fitness USA just announced the release of the BrainBike XG which brings together a high-end recumbent bike loaded with a pc, Gamercize's "patented response technology", and brain training software by NeuroActive. Essentially you will need to pedal to play any of the brain-training games (via arm supported mouse table) that works on 16 different brain functions (processing speed, selective attention, math skills, and visuo-spatial skills to name a few). It does not appear to be a speed-based setup such as the typical GameBikes and Exerbikes, rather it is a form of movement-mediated gaming (MMG). In other words, you have to move to play the games. The price range will likely be out of range for most homeowners but for those schools and gyms looking to combine physical and neuroplasticity activities - the BrainBike could be a solution. I'm not sure if they're looking to add games that are related to the intensity and speed of the cycler, but lots of other groups have tried.... (Pantometrics, VCycle, Espresso, Electronic Sports Dogfight, etc.. - if you have any other examples please send them to me at (exergamelab at gmail dot com).
And here is the rest of it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pedal-powered OLPC

This Afghanistan OLPC invention is a practical solution to producing green-energy for the laptop and looks similar to the Stand Up Desk with Swinging Footrest pictured below. Except one will help students by allowing them to use computers and the other is a solution to being too plugged in over the years. Pick your poison.

And here is the rest of it.

M-Cross Single Seat Simulator @ KSF2009

Similar to the several other flight simulator like the Electronic Sports Dogfight, the M-Cross Single Seat Simulator was trotted out at the KSF2009 Korean Serious Games Festival in Seoul, South Korea (Sept 25-27, 2009).

This very maneuverable monster was equally great at playing traditional simulator games like HIS and Sonic-type action games. Now all we have to do is load up a version of one of my classic loves - 1942 and we're good to go.

WIBC #? Let's strap some EMG's on some players and see what kind of muscle activation we get especially in the core abs and obliques.

WIBC #? Better yet, use the readings from EMG to fly the we're talking ExerGame!

Check out after the jump for more videos and photos from KSF2009.

Monday, October 12, 2009

WiFi Body Scale: Simplicity in Monitoring & Design

I am all for keeping things simple - KISS principle and that definitely applies to human theory and behavior around health. The WiFi Body Scale looks to be a promising device that will provide consistent information about specific health indicators that may help keep people healthier. Using a WiFi signal to pass your private information on to a secure website, this souped-up scale also packs a bioelectrical impedance device that measures a person's "body-fat percent or ratio of fat-mass to fat-free mass. Packaging an iPhone app (read ubiquitous) on top of that makes this device that much more elegant in its design and implementation.
[Via Withings]
Check out after the break for more photos.

Blaze Motion Freedom 3D Controller for PS3

An interesting new product just popped up ahead of Xbox's Project Natal, Sony's Motion Controller, and Wii's Your Shape camera - the Blaze Motion Freedom 3D Controller for PS3.
It's uncertain which technology it will incorporate, but get this,.... it was "designed from the ground up" - a tired cliche. Interestingly enough, the UK-based game accessories manufacturer is not listing the device on it's main home page, the PS3 header page, but rather as a stand-alone page (See screen shots).

Cyberbike Looks Light

Bigben Interactive is releasing the Cyberbike sometime in 2010 and by the looks from these photos, I'm not sure that it would withstand the pounding of kids trying to "clean up" the environment or play Mario Kart. Rather, it looks to be another hunk of plastic that will crowd our cluttered living rooms and closets and eventually hit the landfill as garbage. Pass.
[Via Gizmodo]

UPDATE: Here is a clip (Via Sporle and Co.) of what the Cyberbike will look like and a little of the gameplay.

And here is the rest of it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Serious "Fun" Games @ KSF 2009

Here is my presentation from #KSF2009 - Korea Serious Games Festival in Seoul last week.

And here are some more pictures from the tremendous opening ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Korean government has committed over $60 million dollars to supporting the digital arts, games, and content mostly within the province of Gyongi. They are opening a $20 million dollar facility to support these industries as well as education, software and hardware development. Now that's commitment. Play On Korea!

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