The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has developed new fitness training technology for people with physical limitations.
The German Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has developed new fitness training technology to provide people with physical limitations with a more varied range of options for exercise. The new technology integrates elements found in video games to motivate users to exercise more often.
The fitness training system was developed to address the specific needs of people living with physical limitations. To this end, Fraunhofer researchers collaborated with victims of thalidomide, an immunomodulatory drug that was hailed as a "wonder drug" in the 1950s and prescribed as a sedative, but later discovered to cause malformation of the limbs and other defects in infants who had been exposed to it while in the womb.
The new IT-based fitness game requires players to perform various upper body movements to control their on-screen avatar and play. The movements are designed to help users with limited mobility train motor functions, focus and coordination while also improving fitness and stamina.
The system uses a smart shoulder pad equipped with small sensors to track the player's movements and wirelessly transmit the data to a tablet, where the software processes it and relays it to the on-screen avatar. Created as part of the institute's akrobatik@home project, the shoulder pad provides evidence-based training support for thalomide impaired patients and people with severely limited physical mobility.
The game also uses a specially designed seat cushion that helps the player control the game using voice controls and by shifting weight. The cushion was created by the GeBioM society for biomechanics, one of Fraunhofer's partners in the project. The voice controls enable users to navigate through the menu and there is also a video communication system that allows them to interact via webcams. The fitness game itself was developed by Exozet Berlin, a German firm specialising in the development of mobile games.
The game encourages users to keep playing and doing the exercises prescribed by their therapists. The element of play and motivation to improve their scores keep users engaged in a series of repetitive therapeutic exercises, encouraging them to stay active.
Based in Erlangen, Germany, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS is dedicated to driving and inspiring technology ideas and innovations. The institute is one of the world's leading application-oriented research institutions for microelectronic and IT system solutions and services.