Hemiplegia: Free games

24/05/2008

This looks like a nice bit of software to create an Eye Toy style experience

http://cam.playdo.com/

If you have a webcam set up you can try out these games which will give you an idea of how it might help.

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Wii Fit, Eye Toy, exercise and weight loss

21/05/2008

The predecessor of the Wii Fit was the Eye Toy Kinetic, a ‘gym’ game for improving fitness. It was an important step but it didn’t get it quite right. Too complicated  to log in was one issue, repellently fit avatar trainers was another, but more importantly, it was designed for people who were already  fairly fit. This is a misunderstanding of its audience. Many creators continue to overlook the middle-aged audience they could harvest. The Eye Toy Kinetic’s routines require a level of agility seen in wiry teenagers, not fat middle-aged women who’ve forgotten, if they ever knew, how to exercise. But the Wii Fit has got it right. In the last four weeks I’ve watched some government morbidly obese statistics switch on to exercise because the Wii Fit helps you leap over the barriers to exercise without humiliation, finger-wagging or boredom. It manages to be motivational without ever being patronising. It gives frequent and timely feedback and it repays effort. I’ve seen a middle-aged man become competitive enough to beat a skinny teenager at hula hooping, and a woman who’s never run in her life jog for 60 minutes. This is when the technology becomes exciting, when it can incite this level of personal empowerment and change.


Guitar Hero and Learning

14/05/2008

The physical learning aspects of Guitar Hero, Eye Toy and Wii Fit type games also point the way to more physical ways of learning abstract ideas. Could we see games develop that help children to calculate using very large spaces and movements, rather than sitting in one spot and tapping a keyboard or wielding a pen? Given big enough screens and classroom, learners could be put into situations that require whole body movements to generate data, so they interact physically with the academic curriculum. A mathematical series, or the periodic table could become part of the world that must be physically navigated for a successful outcome. It’s been happening for a while for fun on the streets of Akihabara and on entertainment venue screens, as players compete on Dance Mats and virtual instruments. Does it have something we can exploit in the classroom?


Wii Fit and balance (Hemiplegia)

08/05/2008

Tonight we tried out how it works out balance. The issue for someone who has right or left-sided hemiplegia caused by a brain injury to one side of the brain, is that it can leave a leg or arm underdeveloped, so that muscles and bone may not grow evenly with the limbs on the other side of the body. What is needed is a way of encouraging balance. And balance really requires that both feet be planted evenly on either side of the board. After a series of attempts to cheat at this – eg by trying to balance with tip toes on one side and flat foot on the other (as some hemiplegics will do left unattanded) it seemed that the Wii could pick up the lack of evenness in the body and feed that back through the on screen display. Which suggests it could be useful for hemiplegics


Wii, Eye Toy and Literacy

04/05/2008

The wonderful literacy expert Sue Palmer drew my attention to the way the alphabet can be taught using movement, with kids using their whole bodies to learn the shapes of letters – a bit like a massive use of the Magic pencil technique used by Clare Elstow in the BBC Words and Pictures series before she took over Cbeebies. Sue saw this technique used in scandinavian primary schools. The Wii and Eye Toy technology seems to me to be made for this.


Eye Toy and Wii Fit 2

03/05/2008

And the Wii Fit takes this possibility a step further.  Another issue for mild cerebral palsy cases – and for many people without the condition – is posture and balancing the weight evenly on both sides of the body – the kind of balance you strive to achieve in an Alexander Technique class. A board that gives you accurate feedback about whether you are using both sides evenly is a significant development. The Wii Fit seems able to do this with an onscreen display to give you your level of wobble. Using this should in theory train you into recognising what your body feels like when you’re standing evenly. But does it know whether you have both feet flat on the board while you do this? Only one way to find out . . .