Title: Adapted Kinect game for exercise and fun
Principal Investigator: Ph.D. Begoña García Zapirain
Participants: Deustotech LIFE, Santa y Real Casa de la Misericordia de Bilbao
The current increase in the ageing of our population and the lack of knowledge the elderly have of new technologies implies that they are immersed in the digital divide. This means that older people are not able to participate and are therefore excluded from digital society. Many new technologies that could improve their quality of life are not accessible to them, it is for example the case of smartphones, computers, video games, etc. In particular, it has been tested that the use of games can benefit their quality of life, health and wellbeing, as they reinforce cognitive and physical exercise by means of accessible leisure.
One of the latest tendencies in the field of video games is the use of devices that do not require the use of remote controls, such as the Kinect sensor. This sensor recognizes the movements of the user, who controls the game with the body.
On the market there exist various products made with Kinect. Nevertheless, these games do not work with users in wheelchairs, not being able to use this type of games. There are also older people with physical disabilities, such as those with muscular dystrophy, where in most cases low mobility in either of the upper extremities is presented. These people are also not able to access this type of serious game, since it is not adapted to their specific needs. Therefore, there is a lack of technological resources adapted to the specific needs of each user, leaving a great part of the ageing population without access to products that can improve their health, quality of life, and the enjoyment of their leisure time.
Physical rehabilitation is often necessary for individuals who suffer an injury or illness which causes a physical impairment, in order to restore movement and strength through supervised repetitive exercises. Alternatively, physical activity also improves cognitive performance and reduces cognitive decline. This tool focuses on therapeutic aspects of both cognitive and physical rehabilitation for older adults, as it improves memory by performing mental activities and physical rehabilitation at the same time. This way, exercise, rehabilitation and the enjoyment of an accessible leisure is promoted, also reducing the digital divide.
To achieve this a Kinect sensor is used, which captures users’ movements, enabling them to control and interact intuitively with the computer without any intermediary remote control.
Kineage system is divided into two sections, devoted to physical and cognitive rehabilitation respectively:
This part of the game consist of three diﬀerent levels in which the user should collect various objects appearing on the screen by moving the arms, in order not to let the objects fall, promoting this way both the mobility of the user during the training (game play) and the cognitive process. Firstly, and in order to do the game more generalized, the game allows to specify the typology of the user, i.e., with or without any movement in their legs (use of the wheelchair), and giving the player the option to play standing or sitting.
Additionally, users may present limit mobility in either arm (even absence of absolute movement in either of the two members), thus being the game conﬁgured in such a way that the user can choose if it wished to play with the left arm, right arm or both. The game displays three diﬀerent levels of three minutes each to avoid fatigue in training. In the ﬁrst level, the objects (cupcakes and bottles of wine) shall follow a vertical path. In the second level the number of these objects increases and in the level three the objects follow a horizontal path. At the end of each one of the levels the user shall reach a piece of cake, until achieving as a ﬁnal reward a whole cake after ﬁnishing the three levels.
The main purpose of this part is to improve the memory and psychomotor activity by performing activities, as well as encouraging them to do physical exercise. A range of exercises, in which the user must perform various physical motions in order to solve them, have been developed following the clinicians' recommendations. In these activities the user has to memorize images or relate numbers to their corresponding denition (1-one), amongst others. The objective is to choose the correct answers (images) by moving the correct arm and thus improving the psychomotor activity of the patient.
Even by having a total lack of knowledge of new technologies, the users are able to play the game, learn about its use and apply this knowledge in other technological fields,addressing the problem of the digital divide.
This project, which funding has been provided by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, was selected among the 20 finalists of "Social Innovation in Ageing - The European Award 2014", in which 220 institutions around Europe participated.