I have started my research activity in 2010 under the supervision of Dr. Narcis Pares. Together, we are studying the potential of exercising with videogames, commonly called exergames. The goal of these studies are to define design strategies to improve exergames at a level in which a desire amount and quality of physical activity can be controlled. Most of the following publications results of these studies.
Childhood health issues related to sedentary behavior have risen dramatically over the last 20 years. One of the key factors in this rise is that children are increasingly spending more time on sedentary leisure activities such as game consoles and the Internet. Research turned to interactive exertion interfaces, or exergames, to try to compensate for the lack of physical activity in children and teenagers. Part of this research, especially in HCI, has focused on game design to truly guarantee that children are motivated to play with exergames and hence increase physical activity. Other research, essentially medical, has focused on determining whether these existing exergames foster sufficiently high levels of physical activity as recommended by health experts and compared to sports activity. An important part of research, which has almost not been addressed, is that of finding an automated system to control the amount of physical activity (APA). Such system would ultimately allow health and physical education experts to draw intensity curves for play sessions to guarantee that children perform a healthy activity. Such system clearly needs a way to control this APA. We have defined a game system variable, dubbed Interaction Tempo, which has been empirically proven to be directly related to the APA performed by children in an exergame platform we have designed, the Interactive Slide. In this paper we define and justify what Interaction Tempo is and how it is related to the game control system. We describe two studies (independent factorial designs) that we have designed and undertaken with over 420 children. Our current results do not quantify the APA performed by children in an absolute manner. This will be part of future stages of our research with the support of medical experts and relating APA to Energy Expenditure. However, we have now proven that we can control and modulate the change in APA through the change in Interaction Tempo. These results provide a solid ground on which to design new exergames, as well as the underlying mechanism for developing adaptive systems that automatically control gameplay. This way the APA will always be at the level defined by physical education or health experts for the duration of a play session.
A rich variety of videogames promoting physical activity has followed the emergence of new full-body interfaces. Known as exergames, these active videogames are often presented in the market as a ludic substitute to traditional sport. Although they present the benefit of being engaging, to date, the content and modality of interaction of these games cannot be granted as a regular mean to do exercise. This is an issue of particular relevance when they are perceived as a valid alternative to develop children's motor skills. This paper presents the design strategies and evaluation of the "Fish Game", an exergame that has been specifically designed to spur children to execute specific types of movement determined by health experts. In a controlled assessment with 150 children, we compared the diversity of movement in the Fish Game with respect to a previously designed game. Video analysis shows a richer variety of movements was executed in the Fish Game. We discuss the limitations of our current design procedure and future avenues that could be explored with health experts to enhance it.
We present the empirical validation of a system that controls the amount of physical activity that children do while playing in a specific exertion interface called the Interactive Slide. The control of the amount of physical activity is done through a newly defined system variable we call the Interaction Tempo. Moreover, the detection of this physical activity is done in a non-invasive manner using a computer vision system. Both the control potential of physical activity by the Interaction Tempo and the quantification of this physical activity by the computer vision system have been validated against the change in heart rate of the users. This provides a safe, unencumbered, comfortable and natural system for children play and opens the door to apply it in other exertion interfaces.
We propose an adaptation of Participatory Design (PD) specifically conceived for full-body interaction design addressing the specificities that this entails. The idea is to include the preferences and points of view of children in the process of designing exergames allowing them to: (a) design activities that foster sufficient physical activity and a rich diversity of movement, (b) link this activity to the topic of the game and, (c) understand and test their designs at full-body scale already at prototype level.
We present an exertion interface called the Interactive Slide (Soler, Ferrer, Parés, 2009), a large inflatable slide augmented with virtual reality technology that offers the possibility to children to move freely in a large and diverse spatial area. Diversity of motor skills actions that children do while playing were analyzed with observational methodology and sequential analysis through temporal pattern detection (T-patterns) to obtain behavior motor responses. The results reveal that the strategic virtual games of this Interactive Slide stimulate a large number of motor skills and a rich variability of them. Thus, in a pedagogical sense, it optimizes body movement in children while exergaming.
In this paper we describe a work in progress of a mixed-reality framework based on tangible interface applied to a video game designed for children. This video game, called PIPLEX, lays on the ability of the users to solve a puzzle through modelling malleable materials (namely plasticine and cardboard). We explain the implementation of PIPLEX, its interaction rules and the physical set-up. Additionally, we suggest future applications that can be developed in the context of our framework.