Next evolution in gamification of fitness
For many people the path to health and fitness often begins at the point where it was compromised in the first place – namely the couch. The transition from couch potato to fitness fanatic rarely if ever happens over night, and in some cases to embark on an intensive fitness regime when your body isn’t ready can be down right dangerous. There is also the social and emotional barriers of perhaps going to a gym for the first time at a point where body confidence might be at it’s lowest.
In the past the first steps on the road to fitness have been television, video/DVD based workouts pioneered by Jane Fonda in the 1980s, then violated by ‘Mr Motivator’ in the 90s, before some recent resurgence with box set programmes like BeachBody’s Insanity. However such unidirectional forms of media will always face the stumbling block in that they cannot provide the user with feedback. Without any sense of engagement or progress, workout DVDs can all too often find themselves relegated to the back of the cupboard.
This is where, behind closed doors, exergaming brought about something of a domestic workout revolution. Exergaming is far from new with its history dating as far back as the 1980s and the original modern systems such as the Wii now superseded by a new generation. So what can we expect to from from the second stage in exergaming?
Nintendo Wii U
The Wii U much like its game changing predecessor continues to employ physical peripheral controllers that connect to the console via bluetooth enabling the user to register physical inputs. These controllers include new incarnations of the Wiimote and the WiiFit Balance Board. In addition, titles such as Wii Fit U come with a new Fit Meter, so users can track activity whilst using the system and also separately as an activity tracker. The fit meter measures not only motion but also intensity and even altitude (a parameter missing from many popular standalone activity trackers), meaning that users can gain credit for climbing stairs and hills.
The system collates this data whenever the fit meter is synced and it is then presented to the user in Nintendo’s social hangout the Miiverse where progress and achievements can be shared.
Where the Wii U as a system stands out is where Nintendo has always stood out in its emphasis on creativity, innovation and most importantly fun. By using different controllers in combination the system is able to simulate a diverse range of fun activities.
XBox One Kinect
The 3D Kinect motion tracking camera designed by Microsoft has been a phenomenon well beyond its appliction with the XBox 360 and XBox One, being employed to register user inputs in virtual gym classes such as Playoke Courses and separately in technical scientific applications such as the eyes for prototype Mars rovers. Unlike Nintendo created a brand new niche of casual gamer, XBox Kinect has taken its potential in fitness a lot more seriously and in many respect has been the most successful system in capturing the imagination of the fitness world.
The key benefit of the Kinect system is that it does not require any control other than the body of the user. This makes it ideal for fitness with major brands such as Nike launching a title for the system which is then supported through its own Nike+ service platform. Kinect also allow users to employ real exercise equipment such as weights rather than pretending with a controller.
Xbox Fitness is an online service that takes fitness videos and makes them interactive. The user-tracking technology with Kinect evaluates performance by measuring balance, tempo and form. Xbox Fitness makes working out fun with smart recommendations, challenges, performance history, rewards and achievements to keep users motivated.
Xbox Fitness features an extensive library of videos from the world’s biggest fitness brands, including Jillian Michaels, Tracy Anderson, P90X, Insanity, Anchor Bay (a Starz company) and Mossa. The system also personalizes workouts with high-tech features only possible through Kinect for Xbox One.
Kinect not only reads the distribution of your weight and the explosiveness of your movements, but it also provides an analysis of the areas of the body you are working. Furthermore the system can even detects micro-fluctuations in your skin to estimate your heart rate, and even see which muscles are most engaged by the power, force and transfer of weight in your body and gives you tips to produce stronger results.