“Stealth Fitness” they’re calling it, and it’s enough to make this cake-loving blogger feel mighty guilty. In response to the growing problem of childhood obesity and the concurrent obsession with computer games, UK company Intelligent Design have developed a combination electronic game and fitness suite that demands children playing jump, dive and generally fling themselves about in order to press, twist and pull different controls.
The brainchild of sports technologist Phil Hodgkins, and created in partnership with outdoor equipment company Playdale, the i.play system is a network of arches punctuated by illuminated controls. Children must react as quickly as possible to the control that lights up, pressing, spinning, stamping, pulling or doing whatever action activates it, while their ongoing scores are tracked on an overhead display. Single and multiplayer modes are available, as is a “base” level which disables the higher buttons.
Winning the 2006 “Best In Health” category in the Technical University of Munich’s Academic Challenge Award, i.play is solar-powered and vandal resistant as well as being suitable for wheelchair and adult users thanks to an intelligently-adapting gameplay system.
Best thing is, it’s available to buy now. Thanks to ongoing updates the four existing games can be added to as more are developed, and young people are encouraged to upload their scores to the i.play database and compare their progress with peers. I want one of these myself!