Friday, June 25, 2010

PARS - Physical Activity Rewards System

Can a wrist activity monitor ($110) with it's  ($55) PC base-reader and a $15.00 monthly fee to PARS - Physical Activity Rewards System be the solution to "encouraging" kids to move more and sit less?  NewWayFitness hopes it can be the solution to the crushing amount of sedentary time kids accumulate (TV, video games, computer) by combining components of behavioral economics, reward/token systems, and physical activity monitoring into a "self-monitoring" system of healthy choices and behaviors.  This is how it works: 

1. Set and enter a physical activity goal for the week (or longer)
2. Wear the wrist activity monitor (accelerometer)
3. At the end of the day, upload data by placing watch on USB-attached base
4. Enjoy the benefits and rewards of attaining your pre-determined goals

"P.A.R.S., developed in conjunction with the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park, is an easy to use and innovative, web based software system that improves physical activity levels of sedentary children by using a unique incentive and reinforcement leveraging system and the latest technology Polar Activity Watch to measure activity."

If the child/youngster does not reach their  physical activity goals, you can also stop the flow of electricity going to their favorite electricity-based device  (game console, computer, tv, etc..) through the use of the awesome X10 in-home automation power controllers. This option will definitely cost you more than one way too.

$345 = Total Cost - Year One equipment and yearly subscription
$180 = Total Cost Yearly Subscription

Optional components
$55 = X10 power controller
$99 = X10 ActiveHome Professional Computer Interface and USB Cable
$50 =  ActiveHome Professional Software
$50 = Smart Macro Software Module for ActiveHome Pro

  • I have used these watch bases before and although they are "wireless", the actual base is attached via USB. It would be great if there were an option for a Wireless USB stations like the FitBit, but the FA20 activity watch does not have that option.  
  • Considering so many kids also game on portable systems like DS, PSP, iPod Touch and on mobile phones and smartphones - the X10 would have no impact on how much time they are "able" to game.
  • I love the fact that parents have a hand in helping their children become more accountable but I can't stop thinking about Jesse Schell's DICE 2010 lecture on being prisoners to external reward structures - although you could argue that we are already there with Google, GPS, airline rewards, credit card purchases, coupon clubs, etc..). Hmmmmm..  Let's see how PARS works up close and stay tuned for a thorough review.

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