Thursday, September 11, 2008

Techies Get Physical

We sure do know that most techies, especially the geeky types, can spend more than 10 hours just sitting down and tinkering with computer and other gadgets.

And when techies take a break from writing those complex codes, how do they do it? The answer that easily comes to mind is – by playing computer games!

Somewhere in the Silicon Valley, there is a new high tech fitness gym that is targeted at teenage people. There are the regular cardio exercise gears as well as weights but living up to its location near the Google headquarters, the gym known as Overtime Fitness, also has equipment for the so-called “exergaming”. This new hype combines physical exercise and video games.

As an example, there is a controller transforming the ordinary Xbox games to a game involving full body movements because rather than pushing buttons, the player will have to exert pressure on a padded metal bar. Another system lets the player stand in front of a screen and wear motor sensors so that he can control the game on screen like moving in the real world.

These systems are not really that new although I think the gym is a new idea. I remember a few years back that the dance revos (dance dance revolution) are very popular in malls around the country. Remember those dance pads where the player tries to follow the dance steps on screen and hitting some points on the pad to determine the score?

In fact, according to a technology magazine online, exergaming’s origins can be traced back to 1989. This was when Nintendo came up accessories for their entertainment system – the Power Pad and the Power Glove. The Power Pad allowed players to play sports games like “World Class Track Meet” while the Power Glove simulated movements on screen.

Many other games that stretch the muscles followed. Launched in 2001 was MoCap Boxing where players, whose movements are detected using infra red, box against a software opponnent. Other exergames include sports like golf, tennis and baseball where players hit virtual balls within generating mess in their living rooms.

The innovations will surely help better the lives and fitness of people who can’t go out of their computer zones to tone their muscles. According to many health experts and fitness buffs, these exercise alternatives offer relief from computer-related stress. And there will be no need for hitting breakables with baseball bats.

But not all health professional agree that exergaming is the ultimate solution to getting good health.

An associate professor of kinesiology from the San Francisco State University, Susan Zieff, maintains that real work out movements cannot be substituted by limited movements in exergaming.

For sure, many exergaming will be out in the next few years that will lift the limitations of movements in today’s current software. There may even be fitness and calisthenics games with scoring schemes that can excite discriminating gamers. But one question will still remain, and this is “Is there a substitute for a real sunshine?”

No comments: