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

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
have organized the workshop on Exertion Interfaces which is taking place today, and I asked them four quick questions before the workshop

What do you mean exactly by "Exertion interfaces" ?

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?

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?

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.

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.