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Trampoline gaming system could reduce strain while encouraging exercise

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A research group at the University of Tsukuba is developing a gaming system based on sensors placed around a trampoline.

Trampoline Gaming
Trampoline Gaming

Natural user interfaces abound of late, but the trampoline-based gaming system below is one of the most fun we've seen. Designed to "make exercise less intimidating" and reduce injuries from moving around on a hard floor, the trampoline is placed on top of infrared range sensors that can detect heel and toe movement. A separate sensor in front of it detects which direction the player is turned. Using this information, the game interprets how to move the in-game point of view. Continuous left-right movement, for example, is interpreted as walking forward, and jumping is translated onto the same action on-screen.

The University of Tsukuba research group that's building the trampoline interface says it's intended for groups that may not exercise regularly, like senior citizens. Besides potentially making exercise more enjoyable, the soft surface of the trampoline could reduce joint stress, making it more suitable than something like the Kinect. The system has been under development for some time, but the team is still adding new features and hopes to take it to field tests soon.