Researchers team up to create virtual reality game to get people moving

Virtual Reality - Playing Game

University of Alberta researchers from Canada are working with a team from Japan on the project.

Computing scientists from the University of Alberta in Canada have teamed up with Japanese researchers to develop a virtual reality game experience that will encourage people to get up from their seats and move around.

The teams are hoping to create an experience that will appeal to everyone from children to seniors.

Among the sounds and sensations the teams are hoping will get everyone up and moving include slicing flying fruit, popping balloons and climbing mountains.

Virtual Reality- Exercise - Mountains

The University of Alberta scientists and their Japanese counterparts hope that the complete experience, from the sounds to the visual and tactile sensory effects will be fun enough to get people who would typically be sedentary to exercise and enjoy themselves while doing it.

Virtual Gym is an exercise platform that allows health practitioners to offer game-like physical activities designed for older adults, making them configurable to suit each user’s capabilities and mobility needs. Slice Saber is one of a half dozen games already available on the Virtual Gym platform. The platform was created by a University of Alberta computing science research team le d by Eleni Stroulia and Victor Fernandez. It was a part of a partnership with the AGE-WELL Network.

The virtual reality games allow users to use a series of movements and stretches to complete tasks.

Users enter one of six different virtual worlds where they have to complete various tasks such as shooting a bow, climbing mountains, popping balloons or even slicing fruit as it flies toward them. The platform uses a virtual reality headset and makes it possible to collect the user’s game-play data to evaluate performance and continually improve the customization of the game to that user’s capabilities in real time.

“In our case, we’re working with seniors who may not be able to go out to exercise, to give them an opportunity to maintain the flexibility, balance and level of activity that is good for avoiding frailty,” explained Stroulia. “And while Japan has a much older population than Canada, they are hoping to deploy it in younger adults, not just seniors.”

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