Thursday, May 31, 2007

Exercise, or the (virtual) puppy gets it!

Combine the idea of tamigotchi - a virtual pet - with a real-world exercise interface. Wear a step counter and set yourself a daily exercise goal. If you meet the goal, your virtual pet gets healthier. Miss your goal, and your pet gets more sickly and weak.

The research study (pdf) used virtual fish in a common fishbowl and standard pedometers whose displays were read using OCR. There are many obvious potential improvements, but it seems like an excellent start at a way to motivate people to achieve any number of goals.
a persuasive data visualization that maps a player’s daily foot step count to the growth & activity of an animated virtual character, a fish in a fish tank. the "Fish’n’Steps" application links the size of a fish as the step count, while success in reaching a participant’s daily goal affects its facial expression (e.g. happy, angry or sad). baby fish appear once the upper appearance level is reached.

some fish tanks also include other players’ fish, to create an environment of both cooperation & competition. in a 14-week study with 19 participants, the game served as a catalyst for promoting exercise & for improving game players’ attitudes towards physical activity.
(ht: information aesthetics )

UPDATE: In the comments, Dani mentions vMigo, a virtual dog product where the game controller includes a pedometer and you get "pet points" for taking your virtual dog on walks with you. What a great feature!

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Blogger Askazombiehousewife said...

That's kind of cool
I'd love a virtual monster or fish that only grew and bred when I walked.

5/31/2007 1:01 PM  
Blogger Dani In NC said...

There is (or was) a toy on the market last year called the vMigo that did this. It consisted of a base unit that hooked up to the TV for expanded play, and the handset portion with a pedometer. To walk the dog, the kid actually had to walk. I was tempted to get these for my kids, but at $40 a pop it was a bit too expensive.

6/01/2007 8:02 PM  
Blogger Jeannie Oliver said...

Where do you gt something like this. It would be great in a gym for a group of people losing weight together.

5/22/2009 5:10 AM  

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