How Technology Fuses Fitness and Gaming

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Working out doesn’t have to be a hassle. Instead, it can be entertaining with technology as a motivator.

How Technology Fuses Fitness and Gaming

These days, it’s not uncommon for treadmills and stationary bikes to be used for storage instead of exercise. “Consumer Reports” found 40 percent of exercise equipment at home goes unused.

While many consumers may have good intentions, they aren’t motivated to work out. But that’s changing.

Exercise as an escape

With a goal of helping people develop and maintain healthier habits, Blue Goji, a wellness tech company, is committed to making fitness fun. As innovators of active gaming and active virtual reality (VR) technologies, they want to be the solution for healthy communities.

“We make you part of the gameplay,” says Coleman Fung, Blue Goji’s co-founder and CEO, who calls active gaming, “a mindful distraction.” The user’s motion, like riding a bike or climbing an elliptical machine drives the gaming experience. “When you are playing the game, you are completely immersed with the gameplay, so a 30-minute workout may feel like five or 10 minutes.”

Leaner the other games

Consumers like the system’s ease of use and portability; it doesn’t require a large space or lots of equipment. Plus, at $120, it’s affordable. Other active gaming systems cost hundreds to thousands more, and often require bulky gear and lots of space.

“You are completely immersed with the gameplay so a 30 minute workout may feel like five or 10 minutes.”

Once users download the GojiPlay app, which is available for iOS and Android devices, and connect the gaming controls to their exercise equipment, they can workout with a variety of 15 non-VR games including boxing, spinning and car racing.

“It’s not uncommon for people to not realize they’re exercising but when they get off the equipment, they’re winded and having fun,” says Frank Huang, the company’s COO, noting they plan to release five virtual reality games like a safari excursion and deep sea diving later this year.

The game system, which Fung says doesn’t cause motion sickness, earned a 2016 Red Dot Award for Product Design.

Great for work breaks

Consumers are using the technology to get fit, including for short bursts of healthy activity.

“Take a game break instead of a coffee break,” suggests Huang, explaining many businesses are incorporating quick exercise opportunities into their wellness plan. “We promote individuals getting up five to 10 minutes at a time and we work that around game breaks,” says Michael Whitmarsh at the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA). He estimates over 100 employees use the gaming system as an exercise motivator.

Since many FWTA employees work sedentary jobs like driving, taking regular exercise breaks helps them get moving. “It takes the chore aspect out of being healthy and adds enjoyment to it,” says Whitmarsh.

Expanding wellness

Blue Goji has plans to expand their wellness reach. They’re partnering with The Coleman Fung Foundation in creating The Fung Fellowship for Wellness and Technology Innovations at the University of California, Berkeley.

The undergrad program includes studies in engineering, liberal arts and public health. The exclusive two-year Fung Fellowship for Wellness and Technology Innovations program will integrate active gaming VR platform and help 50 promising students develop health and wellness solutions, especially for underserved communities. Part of the curriculum is creating educational gaming for kids.

“We want to marry physical activity, game and learning,” says Fung, noting the program is a “gamified platform for holistic wellness and learning.” Kids will go through a gaming adventure corp. learning about a variety of concepts. In a deep-sea game for example, kids will play games and learn about marine life, conservation and other ocean issues.

Another part of the program is working with the Partnership for a Healthier America to improve the health and well being of low-income kids. “We want kids to develop healthier emotional skills as well,” adds Fung.

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