Virtual Reality for Exercise

1.Get off the Couch: An Approach to Utilize Sedentary Commercial Games as Exergames


The objective of this research is evaluating a generalizable method to enable utilizing any sedentary commercial game as an effective exercise game (exergame). In general there are significantly fewer exergames than sedentary games. This limits game choice and potentially has negative implications for long-term use. Previous work on exergames has been focused on deriving guidelines for designing the most effective exergames, but has rarely leveraged the mass amounts of existing sedentary games. To address this issue, we present a generalizable approach to utilize sedentary commercial games as exergames. Specifically, we developed a visual overlay technique that interfaces with a Microsoft Kinect and disrupts the user’s visual perception of a game as a consequence for lower exercise performance. To evaluate this approach, we conducted a two user studies with 14 and 20 undergraduate students that evaluated use in single-player and two-player competitive modes, respectively. Results indicate that although we expected blocking players’ visual feedback would be annoying, it actually made the game more exciting, while at the same time providing a vigorous workout.

2. Exercise-Based Interaction Techniques for a Virtual Reality Car Racing Game

We are interested in the applicability of employing any exercise as a 3D user interface to any virtual reality (VR) game. Previous research has shown that VR games can increase the motivation for rehabilitation and exercise. However, these games are typically developed with a specific exercise or condition in mind, which limits game choice and potentially motivation. Ultimately, we aim to afford users the flexibility to perform any exercise as an interface to any game. In this paper, we aim to take initial steps toward this goal. Using Microsoft Kinect as a whole body motion tracking system and 3D user interface, we developed two exercise-based 3D interaction techniques for a car racing game – a genre of game traditionally unrelated to physical exercise. Interaction (i.e., control of car acceleration) is enabled through the use of two real exercises 1) a half crouching exercise, and 2) a crouching and rising exercise. In two within subjects user studies, with 27 participants in half crouching and another 30 participants in crouching and rising respectively, we compared exercises in-game to the same exercises without the game, focusing on the physiological and motivational impact of mapping exercises as interfaces to games.

3. Converting Existing Games to Exergames: The Impact of Interface Mapping DOF

We are interested in converting any video game to exercise games, since more game choices may increase motivation to adhere to a game driven exercise program. However, the motivational and physiological effects of integrating exercise as an interface to a game that was not intended to be an exercise game are unclear. That is, it is not clear which in-game tasks should be mapped to exercises, since task complexity and usability may change the way that users perform the exercise and change the way they approach playing the game.

We investigate the motivational and physiological effects of mapping an exercise-interface to typical game tasks of different complexity – Degrees of Freedom (DOF). We modified a 3rd person 3D platform game to have the same exercise-interface (i.e., jogging and punching) for a 2 DOF navigation and power-up collecting task and a 1 DOF task (i.e., a mini-game). We used Microsoft Kinect to design an exercise-based interface for the game. In a within subjects user study, with 28 participants we compared the differences between using the exercise-based interface for the 2 DOF task and the 1 DOF task, focusing on the physiological and motivational impacts.