As technology has gained a reputation for drawing children indoors and keeping them there captivated by the latest Angry Birds update or building their Minecraft kingdom, we have seen a conscious effort from within the industry to counter the perception of technology as a facilitator of unhealthy childhood habits. Loop, from Pushstart Creative, is the latest effort in this growing trend, relying on movement tracking technology as a vehicle to promote physical activity.
Games and devices such as shoelace-mounted pedometers and Wii Fit are designed to harness collective fascination with all things electronic and encourage physical activity, doing so with varying degrees of success.
In the same vein, Loop is an interactive gaming system that rewards players for getting moving outdoors through a combination of proximity sensors, GPS and accelerometers. Currently being designed for PC, tablet and smartphone, Loop is comprised of four components: the Loop Clip, Motion Bar, headphones and an open source gaming platform.
The Clip can slot into the Motion Bar or be removed to clip onto a belt or backpack. It contains a pedometer, audio outputs and solid-state drive for storing interactive stories and games, while the Motion Bar tracks physical movement through a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope. Both components communicate wirelessly via Bluetooth, so movement data captured by the Motion Bar is synched and stored on the Clip.
Once the data is collected, it is communicated to the gaming platform and the player advances through the game, completing missions and unlocking new content. Players are rewarded in accordance with the difficulty of the exercise. Running and jumping, for example, yields more reward points than simply walking.
The philosophy behind Loop is to encourage physical and social activity, rather than simply force children outdoors. ”Loop’s goal is not to create a fitness regimen, or coerce children into physical activity, its goal is to promote fun and socialization through active play.”
The social aspect of Loop involves “Group Mode,” through which multiple Clips worn by individuals connect via Bluetooth to allow kids to engage in updated versions of classic games, such as Capture the Flag, Simon Says and Hide and Seek.
According to Pushstart Creative's Adrian Taylor, Loop's development is still in its relatively early stages. "The project is still in its funding and development round and there are no release dates as of yet," Taylor tells Gizmag. "Plans include support for both iOS and Android platforms."
Source: Pushstart Creative
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