Monday, November 29, 2010

Exergames in USA Today!

11-29-10: A good article on how exergames and active video games are being utilized more in schools. A good discussion on how it can be incorporated into the school day, the debate about exergames in PE, and best of all, quotes from exergaming colleagues from our Exergames Unlocked grant--Barbara Chamberlin, Bryan Haddock, and Emily Murphy!

I was especially glad to read a quote from a non-exergaming evangelist say exactly what we've been saying all along when exergaming is criticized:

"Charlene Burgeson, executive director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, a group of physical education professionals, says, "We need to meet kids where they are, and if active video games get them moving, then all the better.""

Yeah, Go Ms. Burgeson!!! I'm going to try and track down her e-mail and thank her for this quote. Love it!

Also love the other case studies on how exergaming has helped with tardiness and testing.

You can read the rest of the USA Today article here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

GeoPalz: next step online virtual game?

11-22-10: Just in time for the holidays! A gift that will help kids earn more gifts and prizes, and get them moving at the same time! Similar to Webkinz where you buy a product that gives you access to an online world to earn more cool stuff! Check it out here:

GeoPalz website

Now here's the kicker: Can this be tied into an online virtual world type of game? I'm betting we're going to see that very soon, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Exercise and Alzheimer

11-19-10: Check this on exercise and high-risk alzheimer...more reasons for seniors to keep exercising! What is interesting is the testing they did to measure cognitive function.

What if the exercise was COMBINED with a cognitive function, as in some of our exergaming equipment like the Makoto? Could there be an even bigger impact on protection???

An excellent idea for a study, working with the neuro or geriatric guys....we have all the equipment and resources at LLU so let's get a grant to study this effect!!! I have yet to see it presented at any of the conferences.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Makoto's newest Makoto!

11-9-10: Got a cool treat tonight! No, not Denver's first snowfall of the year (tho that was pretty cool), but got to spend some time with Makoto's Marian and David Shaw and to check out their newest version of the Makoto, shipping out this month. Also got to see the new wall, ready by 2011.

It features a new "brain", a Window's 7 PC and screen. This allows it endless flexibility for programming now, compared to the original version. This also is better set up to allow groups of kids to play various games, making it a great choice for working with groups of kids.

Not only that, there were upgraded design features: flush lights, more lights, and larger towers. It looks really sharp in black!

See an exclusive sneak peak of co-founders Marian and Dave demo it their newest product! Thx to Marian and Dave for picking me up and allowing me to see this newest Makoto. Would love to upgrade our Makoto in the Zone so we can do some research with it. Lot's of possibility! Way to go, Marian and Dave!

Kinecting Experience

11-9-10: The Kinect is here! Last Thur., picked up my Kinect at Gamestop, along with some of the games like Kinect Sports and Dance Central. Also picked up Your Shape as well, to check that out.

Couldn't try it right away because I had to update the OS of my Xbox and after trying it with the USB and a CD of the update, I finally had to lug it upstairs near my Airport/router so I could hook it up to download the update from Xbox Live (didn't want to spend the extra $100 just to get the wifi adapter since I don't plan to do a lot of online gaming at the moment). Fortunately, that worked and soon, my Xbox was ready for Kinect to connect to it.

Got to try it out a bit Friday afternoon, but Sat. night was the "big" test with a bunch of kids at a friend's house. You an see some of the pictures of this session here. Here's the link to theYoutube clip of them trying out the Kinect.

Here are my first impressions:

1. It's big! When I first opened the box, I was struck with how large it was--not bad--just, wow! The connecting cable & power cord are connected, and initially I wondered if it would reach both the Kinect camera and the outlet at the same time, but the design hasn't proved to be a problem, so far.

2. Immersive - It's really NICE not to have to hold anything, and the 3D feature is a whole lot better than the Eye Toy's 2D. You also can't cheat it--if you do a little overhead motion/hit in v-ball, you do a dink shot. If you do a full-on spike motion and time it right, you can do a power spike, which leads me to...

3. Better in the virtual world! I can do things in Kinect that I can't do in real life, like crush my spike in v-ball. It felt awesome and just made me jump higher and swing harder to see how hard I could spike that ball.

4. It's a blast! I've only played a couple of games on it so far (v-ball and soccer), but so far, my initial impressions is that it's a blast! It's the first time (for a home console) that I feel like I'm really IN the game. The only other exergame that is similar to that is the Trazer...and that costs quite a bit more than the Kinect (even if you have to get the Xbox bundled with it).

Is it perfect? Not quite...

1. Updating Xbox: If you have an older Xbox, you have to make sure you have the latest OS. I mentioned my experience for updating that I went through above. When I downloaded the update from Xbox's website, I put it on a flash drive as they instructed, but when I tried to insert my flash drive in the back of the Xbox, it DID NOT FIT because the port is recessed in! I ended up having to use a little "hub" as an extension that would fit into it. Once I did that, I never got the "update" screen the instructions said I should see. So I tried plan B--putting the update on a CD. That too, didn't get my the update screen. You can read above how I ended up hooking it directly to my router. Fortunately, I still had my ethernet cable that came with the Xbox so I lugged it upstairs near my router and then lugged our pre-flat screen CRT 20-inch TV into the hallway to connect it to the Xbox so I could do the update. Once I had that all set up, the update went smoothly and automatically, even without having an account with Xbox live. Too bad they don't just give you a CD with Kinect that would do the update automatically without all this fuss.

2. Navigational challenges. Playing is lifelike; navigating takes a bit more practice (or tech perfection). If you watch my video clip on youtube or FB, you'll see the kids sometimes hunting around for the little white "hand" that you use to make selections, etc. Even then, when you found it, it would sometimes not move the way you wanted to. You have to make sure you keep your body in one place and just move your hand--sometimes, the kids would "walk" there body over which messed up the camera for some reason. This was really the only frustrating part of the whole experience, especially for younger kids. Too bad you didn't have the option of using the xbox controller to make selections or control the white hand with the joystick.

Challenges aside, if and when a lot of Kinect games come out quickly, Wii and Move should be worried because it truly is the most immersive of all the platforms as far as the "human joystick" concept.

I can't wait for more games--wonder if they'll make a "ninja" type of game or other martial arts games--I could really get into that since I really can't do those things in real life! (Shhhhh, don't tell my daughter's friends who all think I really AM a ninja!)

Also, from a games for health perspective, I really hope that we can get developers to make entertaining and immersive games for health that we lifestyle medicine practitioners can recommend to our patients. Not only that, but can also track their exercise, nutrition, and other health behaviors we're trying to change.

And while we're at it, I hope that the xbox can someday connect with electronic medical records (EMRs), especially Microsoft has a whole division on health and lifestyle, and their own personal medical vault or cloud. I would love to be able to recommend a FUN game that helps my patients stay active, and in the background, that game would connect with their EMR or even to me, notifying me when that patient didn't meet their weekly exercise goals (eg. 150 mins/wk of moderate intensity) so that I could intervene right away and help them get back on track instead of waiting to hear about it a month down the road at their monthly follow-up. Given that healthcare is focusing more and more on lifestyle medicine, we will need tools that not only help our patients keep compliant with the prescribed behavior changes, but also EASILY keep track and report to healthcare professionals when a patient is BEGINNING to lapse from their behavior.

Have this cycle between healthcare practitioner, patient, and EMR would greatly increase the practitioner's effectiveness and efficiency, tracking for their EMR, and compliance on the patient's part. All of this should lead to reduce cost, reduced utilization, and improved outcomes (biometrics)....a win-win-win for the patient, healthcare provider, and healthcare system in general.

Finally, I looking forward to trying Kinect with my dad (post-stroke) to see how he does it with it. We got him a PS2 and Eye Toy way back when he first had his stroke, and that worked out very well. So as soon as I get back home from this conference, I will get him playing on it and do a follow-up report on that specific aspect.

I'm hoping to set it up as a demo here at the American Public Health Assoc. annual meeting in Denver, where I lugged my Xbox in my carry-on and checked in the kinect. We'll see if I can find a place to set it up and demo it! Unfortunately, I can't seem to get the RCA jacks in my hotel room TV to work, so I haven't been able to play more of the games after hours--so much for lugging my Xbox here to Denver! LOL!

That's my initial report on the Kinect. Stay tuned for part 2! Overall, a huge 2 thumbs up to Microsoft for the Kinect. This is a huge homerun for bringing exergaming into the homes of the end users.

BTW, I have no financial connections with Microsoft or Xbox, but hey, if they want to send me more Kinect games or Kinects to outfit our XRtainment Zone, I'll be happy to disclose that in future blogs and presentations! ;-)

Speaking of which, Dr. Bryan Haddock just got some Kinects as well and will be doing some kcal expenditure studies on it, so stay tuned for that, too.