06 Aprile 2008

EXERTION INTERFACES. An interview with Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis

Exertion_interfaces_logo_2 We are going to soon carry out sports activities with our friends even when they are not in the same physical place as we are. More generally, computers will be increasingly used to persuade us to physically exercise and to make exercise more fun.  At CHI 2008, Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller  and Stefan Agamanolis have organized the workshop on Exertion Interfaces which is taking place today, and I asked them four quick questions before the workshop start:

What do you mean exactly by "Exertion interfaces" ?

"By Exertion Interfaces we mean interfaces to interactive technology that are physically demanding and require effort: in short, interactive experiences that make you sweat!”

Where do "exertion interfaces" can be beneficial?
Have some of their advantages been proven?

“Exertion Interfaces are drawing from their relations to sports, and can therefore provide similar benefits to physical, mental and social well-being, quite different to what we currently associate with, for example, computer games. However, these systems are not meant to replace traditional sports, but rather provide unique experiences otherwise impossible or difficult to achieve: computers have, for example, the ability to connect people although they are geographically apart, enabling what we call ‘Sports over a Distance’, amongst many other benefits.”

Could you give me a few examples of particularly interesting work that is being presented at your workshop?

“Examples of Sports over a Distance are:

Remote Impact (see the first picture below), which  is a ‘Sports over a Distance’ game that provides a full body contact experience between geographically distant players. The game encourages extreme physical exertion and, unlike the Nintendo Wii and other console games, it recognizes and registers intense brute force. The physical intensity of the game contributes to general fitness, weight loss, and stress relief at the same time it allows you socialize and create new friendships over a distance in an entertaining sportive way.

Jogging over a Distance   (see the second picture below), which allows two joggers to run together although they can be anywhere in the world: they hear each other via headsets, but heart rate data also measures the intensity of their workout and spatializes the sound similar to a surround sound home cinema: if one jogger is getting tired and his/her heart rate goes up, the voice of the jogger coming through the headphones appears to come from behind, if she/he is speeding up, the voice is coming from the front…

Using such an Exertion Interface allows to provide motivational support to conduct exercise and stay fit through fellow runners, however, it does not matter where you jogging partner lives!”

What sorts of new applications do you imagine for the future, thanks to the research that is being discussed at your workshop?

Other projects which will be worked on during the workshop are applications to support a more active everyday lifestyle to address the obesity epidemic. Also, Exertion Interfaces have been used successfully for rehabilitation. Other work aims to make education more successful by incorporating exertion to facilitate the release of feel-good endorphins…..”

© 2008, Il Sole 24 Ore. Web report from CHI 2008.