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Kiwi company takes exergaming to new heights

16 May 2016

A team of researchers from Canterbury University and Christchurch company Springfree Trampoline have patented a new invention designed to help tackle childhood obesity. The invention, known as ‘take gaming outside and make it active’ (tgoma), aims to tackle obesity in a fun way by gamifying fitness to make it attractive to children. The project was developed and tested by using hundreds of sensors in participants who jumped on trampolines over 1.2 million times. The tgoma app, available for children in a fun, gaming environment, tracks jumps by translating them into ‘swipe’ movements, which becomes part of the gaming experience. This comes at a time when, according to The New Zealand Health Survey, a reported 30% of Kiwi children aged between two to fourteen are obese or overweight, pointing to a lifestyle that favours inactivity over an active lifestyle during childhood. A version of the programme called tgomaFit, is also available for adults and parents, offering a range of exercises designed to improve flexibility and mobility. By attracting parents to the game, the company hopes to encourage adults to become active too. Gamification is a trend gaining in popularity, Jonathan Collins, tgoma product manager, says.

“The gamification of fitness is a rapidly growing trend globally, essentially it is bringing together elements of the digital gaming industry and augmenting traditional fitness activities. The aim is to find new ways to engage the mind as well as the body during exercise.” The trampoline industry may not cross many people’s minds, but with an estimated global market of 1.5 million trampoline sales, the company hopes to expand its trampoline and product sales in a push to make gamification and ‘exergaming’ a more accessible and entertaining experience.

A partnership with Christchurch trampoline producer Springfree Trampolines combines both trampoline sales and the tgoma technology. Collins says “Springfree featuring tgoma integrates with the user's own digital tablet and includes educational games and fitness tracking features. Players can participate in worldwide competitions and compare their high scores with friends, family and participants all over the world." Last week the products launched in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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