Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Weight Loss Computer Game: Exercise To Win

Date:
September 21, 2007
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
Finding a way to motivate the billion people in the world who are overweight to lose excess pounds can be an overwhelming task, but one professor is meeting that weighty challenge with a challenge of his own. He has developed a computer game that translates physical activity into video games, such as races and logic puzzles. The games can be played on any hand-held personal digital assistant (PDA) with users wearing a lightweight, wearable sensor that detects movement like running, walking, bending over or even foot tapping. A computer science student who was one of the first to try out the devices lost 40 pounds in five months.

Finding a way to motivate the billion people in the world who are overweight to lose excess pounds can be an overwhelming task, but a University of Houston professor is meeting that weighty challenge with a challenge of his own.

Ioannis Pavlidis, a UH computer science professor, and research assistants Yuichi Fujiki and Kostas Kazakos, have developed a computer game that translates physical activity into video games, such as races and logic puzzles. Dubbed Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT-o) games, they can be played on any hand-held personal digital assistant (PDA) with users wearing a lightweight, wearable sensor that detects movement like running, walking, bending over or even foot tapping.

That data is then transmitted to the PDA via a wireless connection, and the player can see his or her game avatar move in real-time to their movements. For example, in the race game, the player’s physical activity propels the avatar around the track – the more active the player is, the faster and farther the avatar goes.

“When you see the avatar move when you move, you really become connected to the game,” Pavlidis said.

Capitalizing on the buddy system for working out, users can link to other gamers by cellular phone networks and compete against multiple users in the next cubicle or the next state. The game can run all day in the background as users go about their daily routines while earning points and propelling their avatars as they walk to the copy machine, take coffee breaks or walk the dog.

The lack of daily mild exercise is largely responsible for the world’s obesity epidemic, according to James Levine, a Mayo Clinic physician and leading authority on obesity. Levine coined the ‘NEAT’ term to cover all physical activity that is not conscious exercise. Since hitting the gym for a regular workout might be too much to expect for those returning to the fitness fold, these games encourage small, everyday lifestyle changes, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking a few spaces away from a store entrance versus driving around to find the closest spot available.

“We hope the games can increase physical activity, add a dosage of everyday fun and embed NEAT in the modern lifestyle,” Pavlidis said. “We expect an almost ‘addictive’ behavior resulting from this game, much like the habit of playing solitaire during breaks is an everyday ritual for many people. Because of the way we live today, people are sitting all the time, so moving more is always a good thing.

“The allure of computer gaming and competition with other users encourages players to make small lifestyle changes that can add up to big health benefits,” Pavlidis said.

A computer science student who was one of the first to try out the devices lost 40 pounds in five months. The games also have been a hit with early test groups and received rave reviews from players at an April academic gathering of computer scientists.

Along with the straightforward racing game, Pavlidis also recently rolled out his version of Sodoku, a logic-based numbers puzzle that has become wildly popular. In this adaptation of Sodoku, the points players earn through physical activity can be used to fill in another square on the grid, providing clues to solving the rest of the puzzle. More games designed to appeal to a variety of age groups are in the works.

Levine’s lab at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is gauging the games’ effectiveness in a large trial experiment that began in June. Financed by an endowed fund and a National Science Foundation grant, Pavlidis hopes the game will be available to the public before the end of 2008.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "Weight Loss Computer Game: Exercise To Win." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070914210905.htm>.
University of Houston. (2007, September 21). Weight Loss Computer Game: Exercise To Win. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070914210905.htm
University of Houston. "Weight Loss Computer Game: Exercise To Win." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070914210905.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Facebook Announces Location-Sharing Feature 'Nearby Friends'

Facebook Announces Location-Sharing Feature 'Nearby Friends'

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Facebook's pending Nearby Friends feature will give users the option to share their nonspecific or specific locations with certain friends. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michaels Hack Compromises About 3 Million Credit Cards

Michaels Hack Compromises About 3 Million Credit Cards

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Michaels is now confirming that an eight-month security breach compromised about 3 million customers' credit and debit card data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Twitter Introduces Facebook-Style App Install Ads

Twitter Introduces Facebook-Style App Install Ads

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) Twitter hopes to make money on app install ads, which has proven to be a successful strategy for Facebook. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins