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.

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