This device, should it be mass produced, could offer an interesting therapeutic setting for working on table top activities and quickly and easily moving to reach activities. This device could be used to practice many activities of daily living, such as getting items from a cupboard, retrieving books off a shelf, replacing items, sorting, reading, and obviously simply playing games while working your arms. I'm excited to see where this device leads.
View pictures and video below
BendDesk is a curved interactive surface that combines a horizontal and vertical multi-touch surface seamlessly with a curve.
For the launch of Xbox Kinect in Germany, seeper created an interactive projection mapping.
Set at the highly visible Stachus in central Munich, this project attracted hoards of participants. Immersed in the experience, users took part in epic particle ball games, sending fluids shooting three stories high. Together with guests, including Sylvie van der Vaart, we explored the limits of controller free gaming!
Hacking Kinect complete: playing Super Mario Bros. with your body is a go-go
Article from DVICE.com
You probably already know this, but Super Mario Bros. turned 25 this year. What better way to commemorate the anniversary, than with a Kinect hack that uses your entire body to squash Goombas and defeat Bowser to save Princess Peach?
A gadget like the Kinect might get hacked in just a week's time, but it's not properly hacked until it can emulate Super Mario Bros. A programmer by the name of yankeyan didn't want to take the easy road and program a simulated keypad that he could press with his hands. That would be absolutely boring.
Now, using full body gestures? That's more like it. As you can see in this video, to make Mario jump, you need to jump. To move left, you need to move left, etc. The entire setup runs on a NES emulator for Windows and the open source Kinect driver, OpenKinect.
It's somewhat primitive, but boy, did we never see this coming. We doubt Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto saw this one coming either. Who knew that it would take 25 years to finally be able to be the little Italian plumber himself.
Article from DVICE.com
Microsoft's Surface device being used as a platform for neuro-rehab testing for pediatric care. Matthew Holt from THCB is running the flipcam. VectorForm is the vendor
Article from Microsoft News Center
CHICAGO – April 6, 2009 – Talking with a doctor is rarely easy. Patients might feel intimidated by the white coats and jargon, may forget the names of their medication, can misinterpret a diagnosis.
To make the patient-doctor consultation more comfortable, collaborative and productive is the goal of an application developed by Texas Health Resources, which operates 13 hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Microsoft partner Infusion Development. Using Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Corp.’s first surface computer, the solution uses digital health records and images – along with video and diagrams – to make the doctor-patient consultation more productive, more understandable and less apt to result in mistakes.
Texas Health Resources’ prototype is one of four Microsoft Surface applications for healthcare that Microsoft and its partners are demonstrating this week at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2009 conference in Chicago. Other partner demonstrations include an application designed to help patient scheduling and improve overall hospital efficiency, especially when experiencing a rush of patients such as in the aftermath of a natural disaster or construction accident; a tool for assisting children who need rehabilitation; and an application aimed at improving patients’ check-in experience at clinics or hospitals.
Infusion Development’s application allows a physician and patient to collaborate over digital health records, radiology images, prescriptions and other health records. Graphical images of the human body and videos help a physician explain and diagnosis. Click for high-res version.
Together, these demonstrations showcase how the innovative Microsoft Surface natural user interface (NUI) can provide healthcare providers with solutions to solve difficult hospital-management or patient-care problems.
“From the first time I saw Microsoft Surface, I thought it was just made for healthcare,” says Dr. Bill Crounse, worldwide health senior director for Microsoft. “It doesn’t feel like you’re using a computer – it’s much more intuitive and easy to use, for both patients and doctors.”
Touch or multi-touch computing is not new. Microsoft Surface takes massive multi-touch and amplifies it like a stadium loudspeaker. Inside a Surface unit, five infrared cameras peer up at the screen while an adjacent projector bathes the tabletop with infrared light. Once fingers or hands touch the tabletop, the infrared cameras “see” the reflection and tell a Windows Vista-based computer running Surface what those hands or fingers are doing, and how the application should respond with the corresponding content.
This vision-based technology allows Microsoft Surface to respond dozens of different touches. So several people can individually or collaboratively work on a single Microsoft Surface. While doing so, they can open documents or images, zoom them to larger or smaller sizes, rotate them, copy them from one user to another or close them – all with a tap or the flick of a finger. Microsoft Surface’s vision system also allows it to identify objects placed atop it, so it can communicate with a smart phone or tagged card that might contain digital records.
From the time of the first Microsoft Surface deployment in summer 2008, healthcare was seen as a key market. “We thought Microsoft Surface offered real value to emergency departments, in-patient and ambulatory care, and children’s hospital environments,” says Randy Fusco, chief technology officer for Microsoft’s Health & Life Sciences Provider Industry in the U.S. “Patients have a choice where they receive care, and healthcare systems are looking for innovative ways to differentiate themselves around patient experience. Microsoft Surface can help healthcare providers do that.”
So the Microsoft Surface team worked closely with partners and healthcare providers to develop four innovative applications that address different scenarios within healthcare.
MEDHOST’s emergency department dashboard, built on Microsoft Surface, gives physicians and nurses at-a-glance updates about how many patients are arriving, the severity of their medical emergency, what radiology or laboratory orders are pending, the number of beds available, and much more. Click for larger image.
One is the need for collaboration among medical peers, or with patients, so the right decisions are made at the right time. The ability of Microsoft Surface to recognize dozens of different touches from people working all around the unit makes it a natural collaboration tool. In some cases that collaboration is 1:1 – such as Texas Health Resources’ doctor-patient application. But in other cases collaboration may need to take place among multiple caregivers.
Take a sudden medical emergency that sends dozens of patients to the emergency room. To create a digital “traffic cop” that manages the flow of patients throughout the hospital, Microsoft Gold Partner MEDHOST has developed what it calls the Operational Visibility Engine. Using Microsoft Surface and powered by Windows Presentation Foundation, the Operational Visibility Engine delivers a graphical image of the hospital layout, tracks digital records of incoming patients, and maps them to specific floors or beds. Says Patricia Daiker, an ER nurse who now is vice president of marketing for MEDHOST, “In my experience, when there is a disaster you have a handful of patients about whom you need to make very quick decisions related to their treatment and finding a bed for them. With this application a doctor or nurse can look at all the patients coming in and decide how best to handle them, rather than dealing with them one at a time in typical triage.”
Another powerful aspect of Microsoft Surface is object recognition. Much like a RFID or bar code, Microsoft Surface can recognize tagged physical objects placed on the display. A potential example of this technology can be seen in MEDHOST’s application, which provides a hands-on solution to provide real-time information to caregivers and decision-makers in times of a crisis. Texas Health Resources also looked to incorporate object recognition with its Microsoft Surface application. So imagine, in the future, a doctor or patient being able to see their medical information collaboratively by placing a tagged personal patient card on Microsoft Surface.
Chicago-based Allscripts, a Microsoft partner and one of the largest suppliers of electronic health records (EHR) software for physicians’ office and clinics, and Springfield Clinic developed a suite of applications for Microsoft Surface. The applications can provide an interactive overview of the clinic or hospital when a patient arrives, or provide a personalized interactive care plan. With the personalized interactive care plan, the physician’s notes can be incorporated in the EHR and made available for the patient to review, all with a flick of the finger, in outpatient settings.
The goal is to ensure that patients learn more, understand their diagnosis better, and have a sense that the physician is using the best technology available. “It’s pretty well known that when a patient is better educated during their visit with a doctor, they have a better experience and better satisfaction,” says Steve Schwartz, senior vice president for Allscripts. “We think our app really creates a ‘wow’ factor for patients, and also helps them make more of the visit by really collaborating with their doctor, rather than just being talked at.”
A third aspect of Microsoft Surface that software developers in healthcare find intriguing is the ability to have direct interaction with the content (e.g., use fingers to move or write/draw on it). This can be beneficial for solutions geared toward children who require rehabilitation for physical or cognitive problems. One of the challenges faced by physicians working to rehabilitate these youngsters is accurately tracking how a child’s motor skills are faring from one week to the next. Children, meanwhile, may find traditional rehab exercises less than engaging in a video-game world.
To help children in rehabilitation, Vectorform created an application for Microsoft Surface that lets rehabilitation specialists design their own tests for patients. A youngster’s ability to complete the test can be recorded and used to track progress. Click for larger image.
So Vectorform – a global design and gaming specialist and a Microsoft partner – teamed with the Cook Children’s Health System in Fort Worth, Texas, on an application that gives rehabilitation specialists a powerful new way to work with children.
Typically, says Tim McKendrick, a senior project manager with Vectorform, rehab specialists ask children to perform tasks such as tracing a line through a maze the specialist might draw on a piece of paper. Often the test is timed, and repeated daily or weekly to monitor a child’s progress. “We computerize that,” says McKendrick. “The caregiver can create their own tests on Microsoft Surface using its drawing capability, set their own parameters for success, and easily repeat the test and track the child’s progress.” The tests can incorporate a variety of game-like motifs, such as animals or balloons, so the child can find it more engaging.
The excellent graphics capabilities on Microsoft Surface and its ability to recognize and react to a wide variety of touches helped make the application possible, McKendrick says. And it allows the patient and caregiver to really collaborate on tests and gauge progress, as both can work on a Surface unit at the same time.
Among the Microsoft partners who have developed applications for Microsoft Surface, the device gets high marks for its flexibility and the relative ease with which applications can be devised. Says Eric Rock, chief technology officer for MEDHOST, which developed the ER applications, “I give a lot of credit to the SDK (software development kit) at Microsoft. The Surface SDK is phenomenal and really opens up new opportunities for navigating and using the Surface interface.” Developers also like the fact Microsoft Surface uses software they already use, such as Windows Vista and Windows Presentation Foundation.
Still, Rock notes, it’s a challenge for developers to work with Microsoft Surface simply because it is such a change from the usual PC interface. “Microsoft Surface forces developers to forget the keyboard and mouse,” he says. “They need a completely different mindset.”
Another hurdle in healthcare, an industry that has largely resisted digital technology due to costs and implementation challenges, is that a Microsoft Surface unit runs $12,000 – before an application is developed for it. And it’s a fairly large piece of equipment, a factor in cramped waiting rooms or offices.
But the opportunities Microsoft Surface presents developers in the medical world are proving to be difficult to resist. As emphasized by Vectorform’s McKendrick, “Touch technology is here to stay, and Microsoft Surface offers many advantages because of its optical system and its ability to recognize multiple users and tagged objects. It allows a very patient-focused experience, and has seemingly limitless flexibility.”
Article from Microsoft News Center
What is Microsoft Surface?
Article from Microsoft.com
Microsoft Surface is a revolutionary multi-touch computer that responds to natural hand gestures and real-world objects, helping people interact with digital content in a simple and intuitive way. With a large, horizontal user interface, Surface offers a unique gathering place where multiple users can collaboratively and simultaneously interact with data and each other.
For Users: Microsoft Surface represents a fundamental change in the way we interact with digital content. Leave the mouse and keyboard behind. Surface lets you grab digital content with your hands and move information with simple gestures and touches. Surface also sees and interacts with objects placed on the screen, allowing you to move information between devices like mobile phones or cameras. The result is a fun, social and exciting computing experience like you’ve never had before.
For Businesses: Microsoft Surface provides tremendous potential for businesses to improve communication, and be more efficient in how they deliver information and services to their customers. The intuitive and approachable interface is easy to learn and the familiar software platform makes it easy to manage, too. The multi-touch and multi-user capabilities create an incredibly collaborative experience, where sharing and exploring information is easier than ever.
What are the key capabilities of Microsoft Surface?
Microsoft Surface has four key capabilities that make it such a unique experience:
- Direct interaction. Users can grab digital information with their hands and interact with content on-screen by touch and gesture – without using a mouse or keyboard.
- Multi-user experience. The large, horizontal, 30 inch display makes it easy for several people to gather and interact together with Microsoft Surface - providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing experience.
- Multi-touch. Microsoft Surface responds to many points of contact simultaneously - not just from one finger, as with a typical touch screen, but from dozens of contact points at once.
- Object recognition. Users can place physical objects on the screen to trigger different types of digital responses – providing for a multitude of applications and the transfer of digital content to mobile devices.
Seeing is believing
Take a look at the applications available for Microsoft Surface and videos of the product in action. Learn more about how to buy Microsoft Surface.
How does Microsoft Surface work?
Microsoft Surface uses cameras and image recognition in the infrared spectrum to recognize different types of objects such as fingers, tagged items and shapes. This input is then processed by the computer and the resulting interaction is displayed using rear projection. The user can manipulate content and interact with the computer using natural touch and hand gestures, instead of a typical mouse and keyboard.
Article from Microsoft.com
article from LiveScience
By Jeremy Hsu, LiveScience Senior Writer
Today's U.S. military recruits enjoy an arsenal of simulators and video games that sharpen their fighting skills and may even protect them from the mental stresses of combat. But experts caution that virtual reality could also help mask the reality of war.
That has not stopped the military from embracing video games to recruit and train a young generation of gamers who typically play commercial games such as "Modern Warfare 2," which passed $1 billion in sales in January.
"The Army has really taken a hold of gaming technology," said Marsha Berry, executive producer for the game "America's Army 3."
"America's Army" represents the official U.S. Army game that competes with commercial offerings such as "Modern Warfare 2" by also featuring online multiplayer shootouts. The free-to-play game has become a more effective recruiting tool for the Army than all other Army advertisements combined, according to MIT researchers
Such blurring between entertainment and war may have unwanted consequences, according to Peter Singer, a Brookings Institute defense expert. He argues in a Foreign Policy journal article that the "militainment" phenomenon can lead to greater distortions in how people view war.
In real life, "any military person will tell you that there's a blend of incredible intensity and stress combined with long years of boredom," Singer pointed out. "But is a game going to capture that?"
But such reality-based video games could help prepare recruits for the mental horrors of war, help train them for the real thing and even help prevent cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers. [Related: World of Warcraft Video Game Succeeds in School]
The virtual Army wants you
Very few games have the ambition to convey both the physical carnage and mental anguish of warfare, such as was shown in the recent Oscar-winning film "The Hurt Locker" or HBO's Emmy-nominated World War II series "The Pacific." Instead, they have more narrow goals, such as attracting today's recruits through familiar entertainment.
One Army recruitment station in the Philadelphia area featured war-themed video games and helicopter simulators aimed at attracting urban youth. It closed down last month, but the Army hinted that it might adopt a similar approach for future recruitment stations.
"America's Army" continues a strong run with more than 11 million registered users having played over 260 million total hours and counting since 2002, including enlisted soldiers who play under their real-life unit designations.
"The whole concept behind the game was that it was not going to be about scoring based on kills," Berry told LiveScience. "We wanted it to represent Army values and career options."
Gamers can undergo virtual Army training around barracks and shooting ranges, as well as fight in teams against opposing players in online multiplayer combat. Players who faithfully complete tasks, such as medic training, even get perks in multiplayer games, such as being able to revive wounded comrades during online battles.
The game does have some quirks that reveal how tricky it is to reproduce combat realities on an imaginary platform. In online games, players always view themselves as U.S. Army soldiers and see the opposing team of players as a fictional enemy. By contrast, an upcoming commercial game "Medal of Honor" allows players to fight one another as either U.S. Army or as the Taliban insurgents of Afghanistan.
Killing in "America's Army" also represents a fairly clean affair compared with the bloodier kills of "Modern Warfare 2." That allowed the game to earn a "T for teen" rating, as part of its recruitment tool value.
"We wanted kids to be able to start playing at 13," Berry explained. "If they haven't thought about the Army by the time they get to 17, it's probably not something they'll do."
Boot camp 2.0
The recruitment of young gamers has forced some changes in military training. Earlier this year, the Army announced that it would reshape basic training to accommodate a new generation of tech-savvy recruits who may have more gaming skills than physical fitness.
On the upside, specialized games and simulators have become cheap and effective virtual training grounds that supplement the usual physical drills.
The Army trains its soldiers on game-like simulations such as "Virtual Battlespace 2" or even noncommercial versions of "America's Army." Training versions of "America's Army" can integrate real military weapons or hardware with the game software, so soldiers can physically hold the launch tube of a Javelin antitank missile and practice firing it in a virtual setting.
By the time soldiers get to the live fire exercises with weapons, many are already fairly proficient from having trained on the simulators, Berry said.
The most futuristic example of game-like training comes from Raytheon, a giant in the defense industry, and Motion Reality, the company responsible for the 3-D technology behind the Hollywood blockbuster "Avatar."
The two companies developed a free-roaming simulator called VIRTSIM, which allows participants wearing full gear and virtual reality goggles to physically fight their way through a virtual setting. The participants can toss physical objects such as mock grenades that explode in the virtual setting, and even experience a low-level Taser-style shock when a virtual enemy manages to shoot them.
Preparing the mind for war
Such virtual training may go beyond training military recruits to operate weapons, spot roadside bombs, or clear rooms of enemies. It could also protect them from the mental horrors of war, according to Albert "Skip" Rizzo, a University of Southern California psychologist.
With funding from the U.S. military, Rizzo's team in the virtual reality lab at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies wants to prepare military recruits for mental trauma before they are ever deployed overseas. It is developing virtual re-creations based on the stories told by returning veterans.
"What we want to create is something that pulls at the hearts of people," Rizzo said. "Maybe there's a child lying there with the arms blown off, screaming and crying. Maybe your action kills an innocent civilian, or you see a guy next to you get shot in the eye with blood spurting out of his face."
At the most upsetting moment, the simulation would freeze and allow a virtual character to come out and walk the player through the situation. That character might look like a gunnery sergeant, a Buddhist monk, even a former schoolteacher – whatever helps the recruit think calmly after experiencing the virtual trauma.
"The rationale is you want to teach people this stuff when they're in a state of arousal so that they're more likely to access that learning when they're in a similar state" in real life, Rizzo said.
Such stress-resilience training, or emotional coping, has existed in U.S. military training for a couple of years. But there's a limit to how much time new recruits can spend in workshops or in the re-creation of an Iraqi village at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Southern California. A virtual simulation or game could allow more recruits to train themselves in stress resilience during the many months leading up to actual combat.
Less is more for veterans
Ideally, the preparation would help prevent future cases of PTSD among veterans. As many as 20 percent of returning military personnel may suffer from the disorder or from major depression, according to a 2008 study by the RAND Corp.
For veterans with PTSD, even poor graphics in virtual reality simulators can trigger powerful memories. Psychologists have found that a crude visual representation allows the mind of the patient to fill in the details based on personal experience (similar to the notion popularized in the Hollywood blockbuster "Inception").
"If you leave it a little bit open, then you have more space for the patient's own imagination and their own insertion of experiences in the world," Rizzo said.
When Vietnam War veterans took part in virtual reality therapy for PTSD during the late 1990s, the simulation graphics "sucked," according to Rizzo.
Even so, "when the patients got out of the [virtual] copter, a couple of them were describing Vietcong shooting from the jungle and water buffaloes in the rice paddies. None of that was in the simulation – they had blended in their own experiences."
Rizzo hopes that the new stress-resilience training can trump the need for PTSD therapy and allow future military veterans to return to civilian life with fewer nightmares. He wants to convey a sense of reality closer to certain war films, such as "Platoon" or "Saving Private Ryan," rather than the films he watched as a kid, in which combat appeared as a sanitized black-and-white struggle.
"We're training people to cope with the jobs they've been asked to perform and come back intact," Rizzo said. "Nobody goes to war and comes back the same, but when they return, are they capable of holding a job and loving their wife and kids? That's what our aim is, to make the return home as smooth as possible."
Blurring the lines
Before that can happen, Rizzo and his colleagues must figure out how to strike a balance in the realism of their simulations. Too polished a presentation may lull recruits into thinking of the simulation as just another commercial game such as "Modern Warfare 2," where death only has the consequence of making players wait to reappear in the next match.
"We don't want it to look like a game [recruits] have already played and become habituated to," Rizzo said.
Brookings Institute defense expert, Singer wondered if militainment could also lead to a growing sense of detachment among military recruits during actual combat. He spoke with military officers who observed as much about some of the latest recruits.
"This might be the essence of this new era of militainment: a greater fidelity to detail, but perhaps a greater distortion in the end," Singer wrote in his Foreign Policy article.
That distortion could become magnified among the majority of gamers playing "America's Army" or "Modern Warfare 2," who only experience warfare as what appears on their computer and television screens. Few will end up deploying overseas to experience the reality of war in places such as Afghanistan for themselves, according to Singer.
"This is especially the case as you have now almost two generations (X and Millennials) for whom the draft is just some paper card you get when you are 18 and never ever hear about again," Singer said in an e-mail. "It completely changes the way they think about war."
The militainment trend also takes place during a time when those killed in the wear rarely show up in U.S. news, and only arrive home as flag-draped coffins. As a result, most gamers may only ever see the casualties of modern wars as pixels on a screen – there one moment, gone the next.
article from LiveScience
article from LiveScience
By Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor
The video game Tetris may quell flashbacks of traumatic events in a way that other kinds of games can't, researchers have found. The curious effect might have to do with how the shapes in the game compete with images of a traumatic scene when it comes to getting stored in one's memory. Tetris, one of the most popular video games of all time, involves moving and rotating shapes falling down a playing field with the aim of creating horizontal lines of blocks without gaps.
In earlier work, scientists at Oxford University in England found that playing Tetris after traumatic events could reduce flashbacks in healthy volunteers. The hope of this research is to reduce the painful memories linked with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To see if this effect was found only in Tetris or with other games as well, the researchers compared Tetris with Pub Quiz Machine 2008, a word-based quiz game. The investigators began by showing volunteers a gruesome film with traumatic images of injury and death, such as fatal traffic accidents and graphic scenes of human surgery.
After waiting a half-hour, in the first experiment, 20 volunteers played Tetris for 10 minutes, 20 played Pub Quiz and 20 did nothing. By examining diaries the volunteers kept for a week afterward to record any instances of flashbacks to the film, they found Tetris significantly reduced flashbacks while Pub Quiz significantly increased them. In a second experiment, the wait was extended to four hours, with 25 volunteers in each group and matching results.
"Our latest findings suggest Tetris is still effective as long as it is played within a four-hour window after viewing a stressful film," said researcher Emily Holmes, a research clinical psychologist at Oxford University. "Whilst playing Tetris can reduce flashback-type memories without wiping out the ability to make sense of the event, we have shown that not all computer games have this beneficial effect — some may even have a detrimental effect on how people deal with traumatic memories."
The split mind
To explain these unusual results, think of the mind as having two separate channels of thought. One is sensory, dealing with perceptions of the world as experienced through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, while the other is conceptual, responsible for combining sensory details in a meaningful way.
These channels generally work in harmony with each other — for instance, we might see and hear someone talk and quickly comprehend what that person is saying. However, after traumatic events, the sensory channel is thought to overwhelm the conceptual one. As such, we are less likely to, for example, remember a high-speed traffic accident as a story than as a flash of headlights and the noise of a crash. These sensory details then intrude repeatedly in a victim's mind in the form of flashbacks, often causing great distress.
Past research suggested there is a timeframe of up to six hours after a trauma in which one can interfere with the way traumatic memories are formed in the mind. During this window of opportunity, certain tasks can compete with the same mental channels needed to form those memories, in much the same way it can prove hard to hold a conversation while solving a math problem.
As such, the Oxford team focused on Tetris, a task that demands visual attention and visual memory. They suggest the game achieves its beneficial effects regarding flashbacks by competing with traumatic details on the sensory channel. On the other hand, Pub Quiz might compete with the conceptual channel, reinforcing sensory details of traumatic events.
"These laboratory experiments can help us understand how unwanted flashback memories may be formed," Holmes told LiveScience. "This can help us better understand this fundamental aspect of human memory. It may also lead us to think about new ways to develop preventative treatments after trauma."
However, she cautioned that this is early stage laboratory research, and that further work is needed to move this into clinical situations.
The scientists detailed their findings online Nov. 10 in the journal PLoS ONE.
article from LiveScience
By Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor
original post on msnbc.com
Life-sized, 3D video game allows patients to ‘be the joystick’
Israeli Shalev Malki, who is partially paralyzed in his arms and legs goes through physiotherapy
treatment at the Chaim Sheba Rehabilitation Hospital near Tel Aviv, Nov. 29, 2006.
TEL AVIV, Israel — On most days, a tumor on Zvulun Muola's spinal cord keeps him confined to a wheelchair, but today he is standing on a small, wooden dinghy gliding downstream, navigating between the islands of a tropical paradise.
Muola, whose legs are partially paralyzed, is among a handful of disabled patients in Israel using the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment.
The virtual-reality system puts patients at the helm of a life-size video game, forces them to use atrophied muscles and teaches the basic skills necessary to recover from severe injuries and disorders.
"It gives more confidence," said Muola, standing shakily on a moving platform, sandwiched between a walker and a physical therapist. "It's hard at the beginning but once you get the hang of it ... it improves stability and helps the patient trust himself."
The $650,000 computer system at the Chaim Sheba Rehabilitation Hospital near Tel Aviv is the only one of only a dozen worldwide in clinical use. The others are still in the research phase. But doctors using the system say it can cut rehabilitation times and make the process far easier by helping distract patients from their pain.
More than half of the Tel Aviv hospital's patients — most of them amputees — were maimed by suicide bombs or wounded in last summer's war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
Sgt. Idan Borovski, 23, was wounded in a Lebanese village when shrapnel from a Hezbollah anti-tank missile ripped through a crowd of soldiers, killing nine and injuring 30. The metal shards severed the nerves and muscles in Borovski's foot, leaving him with little feeling and limited use of his leg.
"For one thing it was fun," Borovski said of his two training sessions with the virtual-reality system. "You are actually in a game. You are playing. You don't notice the pain and you can work harder."
The system immerses the patients in a fully reactive virtual and physical environment, using tiny sensors placed on the body, 12 high-speed infrared cameras, a moving platform that reacts to the patients' weight distribution and a life-size 3-D projection screen.
The system simulates daily activities like taking a walk in an urban environment, driving a car, hiking up and down a mountain or — like Muola on the dinghy — steering a boat. The scenarios teach patients to stay balanced and react to situations they will face in the real world.
The dinghy can be steered by leaning in left or right, forward and back, between a slalom of checkpoints and land masses to reach the finish line.
In another scenario that takes a patients down a winding road, the platform lurches with every curve, tilts back and forth over hills and simulates various terrain with vibrations. The patients also can try to "catch" objects floating by — with sensors on their hands — while maintaining balance.
Dr. Itzhak Siev-Ner, head of orthopedic rehabilitation at Sheba, said virtual reality helps his patients retrain their brains and bodies to function and works much faster than traditional rehabilitation methods.
"The system helps to strengthen muscles, to improve your stability, balance, and to translate it to everyday life," he said. "The integration of all these activities — and this is oversimplifying it — enhances the plasticity of the central nervous system."
Siev-Ner said the video game scenarios, which keep scores to allow doctors to monitor progress, distract the patient from pain and involve more complex coordination than normal physical therapy.
"It's like the patient is the joystick of the system ," Siev-Ner said. "Although it can be fun, after 20 minutes they are sweating to hell."
Since Sheba's system came into regular use in 2005, it has logged 600 hours of rehabilitation time with more than 50 patients.
Dr. Michael Yochelson, medical director for brain injury programs at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., said there is a bright future for virtual reality in medicine.
"It's something that looks very promising and there's a lot of research going on in that area now," he said. "It allows for reproducing different scenarios that we can't necessarily reproduce in the clinic."
It is no accident that the first clinical use of virtual reality is in Israel, where a perpetual state of war has led to a constant flow of casualties.
"Unfortunately there is a quite a good industry here," said Oshri Even-Zohar, the Israeli who first conceived the system in 1990 but said the necessary computer technology wasn't available for seven years. Even-Zohar built the prototype in the Netherlands using a grant from the European Commission.
A new scenario being developed will be set in the aisles of a supermarket, where the patient will have to pick items from the shelves and bring them to the virtual cashier — a decision-oriented game particularly helpful for recovery from brain injuries.
Over the next two years, next-generation models will be installed in Brooke Army Medical Center in Houston and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., Even-Zohar said.
Yochelson, the American doctor, said it is a sign that the U.S. market for innovative rehabilitation is also growing.
"We always see a lot more advances in amputee care and prosthetics during war time," he said. "Israel has the population to support that. Unfortunately, now our military does too."
original post on msnbc.com
This site is all about audio games. Most of these games only use sound. That's right, no visuals. AudioGames.net wants to promote, support, and inform the audio game community. There's a Mod section where you can learn how to modify audio games yourself. Create your own sounds, levels, and rules. In the community section of the site there's a forum and an audio review to hear what others think about a game. If you're blind or know somebody that is let them know there are lots of games waiting to be played and give a challenge. There is a long list of games to choose from, many are freeware, so try them and let Games4Rehab know what you think.
Starting July 16, Wii Games 2010 will begin!
Compete in Bowling - Standard Game, Coin Battle (Co-Op), Hula Hoop, Mario Kart Time Trial, and Basketball 3-Point Contest. Get your family and friends together to form a team, complete head-to-head against others. If you can't get to an event site there is a home download kit.
Games4Rehab would like to know what you think about the 2010 Wii Games. Are you going to the games or downloading the home kit? Looking for people to be on your team? Find friends here at Games4Rehab.org and when the games are over please share your experience.
Armeo - robotic rehabilitation therapy for neurological movement disorders
About a year ago I had a chance to use this piece of equipment for about 20 minutes and it was challenging, fun, and with more time most likely effective. For those of you that don't know me I'm a C - 3, 4 incomplete quadriplegic. July 21st, 2010 will be my 12th year of paralysis, I have slight signs of muscle control in my biceps and triceps but nothing else below my shoulders. When I try to explain the Armeo and the feeling I say it gave my arm the feeling of weightlessness so the slightest muscle movement could be seen. I was able to move my right arm up and down with my shoulder muscles, push my arm forward and backward and the most impressive part to me side to side. One game was a 3 dimensional room and the object was to clean the white areas of the room with a sponge. There's a short clip in the video. To clean the room you need to be able to use all the movements I mentioned earlier, up and down to get the walls, forward and backward to get the sponge from the front of the room to the back and side to side to get the ceiling, floor, and back wall, very challenging. Another game I tried was catching water drops in a pail. That one worked more with the side to side movement. Another game that was hard but fun was the go-cart driving around, another short clip in the video. With this game pushing forward was the gas and side to side to steer. I'm sure this equipment isn't cheap but it sure would be nice to see at physical therapy rehabilitation centers around the world. Check out the video and give us your thoughts on it. Have you seen or used Armeo? Does it look like something you would use for physical therapy sessions? Will you buy me one? hahaha
Xbox 360 Kinect - Your Shape Fitness Evolved
Introducing Your Shape™: Fitness Evolved, a revolutionary fitness game for Kinect on Xbox 360®. Your Shape’s proprietary Player Projection technology puts your body into the game for the ultimate experience. You’ll control the game intuitively with your voice and body as you create your desired fitness experience. Choose a personal trainer to help you meet your specific fitness goals, take a Yoga or Martial Arts class, or play fun, family-friendly mini-games. As you exercise, you’ll receive specific feedback on your every move, thanks to the game's real-time precise tracking system. Plus, as you exercise, you’ll interact with captivating visual effects that respond to your movement and impact. Get ready to experience the evolution of fitness gaming!
Exergaming Benefits by Stephen Yang at ExerGame Lab
- "Gets You in the Game" is a statement we've been using for a long time and it's good to see it throughout the press releases.
- A surprisingly strong Facebook community of 36,000 + seems like it has a good start on the maximizing the group's ability to support one another.
- Great visual effects and interaction and player tracking.
- Lots of great feedback (formative, summative, instant).
- Hundreds of exercises and supposedly never giving you the same workout.
Exergaming Concerns by Stephen Yang ExerGame Lab
- As I have found in my research and that of others, perceived exertion is proving to be a tricky metric as people are under-reporting their levels of perceived exertion. This can lead to exhaustion and/or repeated overuse injuries.
- Although Your Shape: Fitness Evolved has evolved from the Wii version, I still don't like the computer generated "image" when compared to the your actual video like onEyeToy Kinetic (my gold standard for fitness video game).
- If it never gives you the same workout twice, what happens if you really connect with a particular workout and want to repeat it? Is there the option to put it back into rotation?
- With all the feedback coming from the program, will the user be able to customize the amount, delivery rate and or type (audio, visual)?
- Will players with movement disabilities be able to use the this system after calibrating for range of motion?
- Will we be able to move the camera closer so those with limited ROM can still "Be in the game"?
- Will the online support community run into similar litigation issues as EA SPORTS Active (featured earlier)
- Did the designers consult with exercise physiologists, strength training professionals, and personal trainers?
- Did they build in features that emphasize: the different elements of training cycles (micro, macro, meso), energy systems (aerobic, anaerobic, lactic, alactic), tapering an cycling, nutritional demands coordinating with each specific cycle and system?
- As is the case with many of the fitness "games", there does not appear to be any real game element in terms of story, plot, or narrative. In essence these titles should be "efitness instruction" or "efitness guides".
- The demo got me a little confused as it was the mirror image of what we were watching on stage.
article from Telegraph.co.uk
Professional computer gamers have the reactions of fighters pilots but the bodies of 60-year-old chain smokers, according to tests comparing them with international athletes.
A university academic conducted a series of physical and psychological tests to determine whether playing on computers could be defined as a sport.
Top gamers can earn tens of thousands of pounds a year in prize money and sponsorship but academics have warned the cost to their health could be devastating.
Dr Dominic Micklewright, from the University of Essex, put several ''elite cyber-sportsmen'' through their paces to see how they compared to professional athletes.
The head of Sport, Performance, and Fatigue Research Unit also wanted to determine whether video gaming should be classed as a sport.
The cyber-sportsmen had mental sharpness and psychological traits comparable to 'real' athletes, and reacted to visual stimuli almost as fast as fighter jet pilots.
But their fitness levels were shockingly low and comparable to people either much younger or much older than their actual age.
One leading gamer in his twenties appeared to be slim and healthy with a physique similar to an endurance athlete.
But tests revealed he in fact had the lung function and aerobic fitness of a heavy smoker in his sixties.
Dr Micklewright blamed the gaming lifestyle of spending 10 hours a day in front a computer screen and warned youngsters against such a sedentary lifestyle.
He said: ''Someone of this age should be much fitter, but perhaps this is the occupational hazard of the professional gamer who can spend around 10 hours a day in front of a screen.
''It is always difficult to say how these things will develop, but it could have long term health implications such as an increased risk of heart disease.
''Screen time with children has a very strong correlation with childhood obesity and risk factors with heart disease later in life.''
But Dr Micklewright was equally surprised by the number of characteristics gamers did share with top athletes.
He said: ''Their reaction time, motor skill, competitiveness and emotions were pretty close.
''Elite athletes have unusually high levels of positive feelings and low levels of negative feelings such as depression and fatigue.
''We saw similar characteristics in gamers, albeit not quite as pronounced.''
Dr Micklewright said video gamers would benefit from balancing playing video games with getting fitter but their sedentary lifestyle meant they should not be classed as athletes.
He said: ''There is an inextricable link between the function of the mind and the body.
''Gaming shares some characteristics with sport because both are competitive, skill-based and governed by structured rules.
''But the main distinction which precludes gaming from being a sport is the lack of physical exertion.
''However, in the end sport is socially defined and there are sports, such as snooker and darts, which you might argue are on the boundary.
''Like video games these require very high levels of skill, but are relatively sedentary and not physically demanding.''
Dr Micklewright conducted the research for The eSportsman, a Radio Four programme set to be broadcast on Friday.
He ran a series of physiological and psychological tests on gamers at the Gadget Show Live in April at the NEC Arena in Birmingham.
from ExerGame Lab’s posterous
Here is the Dave Graveline Into Tomorrow Interviewing me (Stephen Yang) at Games For Health 2010, Boston, MA. It was the second time I've been interviewed by Dave and it was great to catch up with him and let him know what's been happening in the ExerGame Lab. Ben and Beth did an awesome job pulling off the biggest and best Games for Health Conference - and if you're interested in making next year's even better - please get in touch so that we can make it happen.
Posted via email from ExerGame Lab's posterous
Posted By Stephen Yang to ExerGame Lab at 6/07/2010 10:41:00 PM
Turning Disabled Into Gamers, MIT Aims to Spread Robot Rehab
BY ERIK SOFGE at POPULAR MECHANICS
October 1, 2009
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- It sounds like nirvana for nerds: playing a video game while strapped to a robot whose only job is to get you a higher score. Can't move your Space Invaders-style ship fast enough to dodge that approaching wall? The motorized arm automatically kicks in, nudging the joystick until you've cleared the obstacle.
But let's be clear about this: If you're undergoing robot therapy, something terrible has happened to you--a stroke, a spinal cord injury or possibly the onset of cerebral palsy. And what seems like a helpful robot is actually your opponent, since the goal of these games is to avoid machine assistance on the road to recovering your own motor functions. For the hundreds of patients across the country using rehabilitative robots developed by MIT, the results have been staggering. Not only has recovery accelerated, but at least one study of stroke victims indicates that the benefits continue even after the robot therapy is over, as the brain continues to rewire itself.
But here in MIT's Newman Lab for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation, these robot therapists look more like advanced video-game controllers than worthy opponents. A handle comes attached to a long metal arm, which is wired to a dedicated monitor. And each model is highly specialized: The first one I grip tests your ability to move your arm laterally, working your shoulder and elbow; another focuses solely on wrist movements. While most testing now occurs out-of-house in clinical settings and ongoing trials, the researchers here face a crucial test being run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The multisite trial includes three groups of stroke victims, one of which is using robots, while another receives traditional care, which often focuses on coping with impaired movement, rather than recovering from it. The third group is undergoing a kind of hybrid therapy, where human physical therapists more or less act like robots, assisting patients' movements during various games.
"Apparently, this hasn't been easy on the physical therapists," says Hermano Igo Krebs, principal research scientist at MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering. "It's a highly aerobic activity for them." That's not because the robots are particularly strong--according to Krebs, they're generally built to be capable of 28 newtons, or roughly the same strength as a "weak woman." Since these devices aren't working out muscles, but attempting to restore synaptic connections, there's no need for additional force. In fact, to build successful rehabilitative robots, MIT had to develop machines whose first priority wasn't to push back, but to get out of the way.
Krebs compares most robots to a car in low gear. When you're heading uphill, shifting into first gear makes sense. But once you're driving downhill, the car is actually resisting gravity, restricting your speed. Likewise, robots are generally built for performance, and even robotic toys rely on sensors to avoid either slapping their human owners around or burning out their motors against us. On assembly lines, potentially lethal industrial robots are built to freeze the instant anyone crosses nearby laser boundaries. Building robots that instantly shift between zero resistance and even a minor amount of force is an ongoing technical challenge.
To Neville Hogan, the Newman lab's director, these devices represent the early stages of "contact robotics," or robots that can physically interact with humans. "We're treating the rehabilitation application as a flagship, a first pass at contact robots," he says. Along with the obvious benefits of helping seriously impaired patients recover, the advantage of starting with rehabilitation is that it's easier. Compared to a mechanical dance partner, he explains, a robot that's not very strong, doesn't have to move very fast and focuses on a given limb segment is actually achievable.
Since MIT's first successful robotic therapy study was completed in 1994, the field has expanded rapidly in the United States. As these devices become more sophisticated, they could lead to Jetsons-inspired wish fulfillment--robot maids that may or may not backtalk you, but certainly won't accidentally tear your head off while folding the laundry. In Japan, where scientists are hoping to head off a looming healthcare crisis due to a steady rise in the country's elderly population, contact-capable robots are becoming a priority. Researchers at the University of Tsukuba are hoping to commercialize a robotic suit that can enhance its user's movements, allowing the disabled to become more mobile. But there's a difference between a contact robot that helps you, and one that provides therapy. The devices built by MIT, as well as by universities around the country, aren't designed to hold your glass of water, but to improve your natural ability to grasp any object. According to Krebs, studies have shown that when robots provide specific assistance, patients tend to get lazy, and rely even more heavily on the machine.
The recipe for successful robot rehab, in other words, is deception. By playing a video game, patients aren't simply becoming frustrated with their impairment, waiting for the robot to rescue them. They want to move that little spaceship, or hit a target, and avoid any machine intervention. And as the user's brain continues to heal and their ability improves, the robot keeps pushing them, requiring faster movement, giving them a smaller window to act before it steps in. The games, which are coded in-house, are extremely simple, with no direct correlation to specific activities or real-world challenges. Originally, the lab had developed more of an immersive, virtual-reality environment, but that approach was quickly scrapped. "It confused them," Krebs says. "These are sick people. They have many serious problems. They would simply get lost."
Since the goal of a given session might be to have a patient attempt 1024 movements, most of the games are about as basic as you can get, reminiscent of the Atari 2600. For children with cerebral palsy, the researchers bumped up the graphics, and included rockets and lasers. While Krebs imagines having to increase the complexity of the games in the future, the lab is already experimenting with online gaming. One system allows users to arm-wrestle across the Internet, and as robotic therapy becomes more commonplace, goals are to install devices in patients' homes, and add additional social networking features.
Hogan estimates that within two to three years, some form of robotic therapy could be available in every major rehab clinic in the country. "If the VA trial is successful, that could lead to Medicare reimbursement," he says. Results of that trial could be released as early as 2009. In the meantime, there are other milestones to chase: One of the machines here at the lab is designed to be harnessed to a rat, to help it steer around real-life obstacles while under the influence of various drugs. A little grotesque, maybe, but if that's what it takes to get a robot maid--namely, a few sloppy rats pushed around by their bossy robot overlords--then let the games begin.
By Nadia Oxford at whattheyplay.com, June 5, 2010
People are often very shy about asking differently-abled individuals questions about their condition, especially questions about how they complete day-to-day tasks. Iain Hanson from Scotland, who was paralyzed in an accident when he was 15, is happy to demonstrate how he manages to game.
According to his YouTube profile, Hanson landed wrong in a bouncy-castle amusement structure four years ago. The accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, and though he has some use of his arms, his fingers remain numb. In a video demonstrating his skill at Modern Warfare 2, Hanson explains how he gets the job done:
"For [Modern Warfare 2], I use my left palm or ball of my hand for the left stick, have to take my hand off it to use my thumb for the D-pad. I vary between using my right hand i a similar fashion for the right stick, and twisting my left hand over so I can aim while I shoot. I press L1 with my right index finger as I press R1 to shoot with the base of my thumb (kinda where it turns into a thumb from being wrist). For L2 and R2 I use my right middle finger whilst aiming the right stick with my left hand. For the buttons on the right I use my thumb, having to take my hand off of the right stick or trigger buttons.
"So that's basically it, that's how I roll! (no pun intended)"
Take a look at the video below. Game on, Iain.
Check out their Website
by Jeff Groves at escapistmagazine.com
Back in the hazy days of my childhood, I remember a letter from an enthusiastic Mario fan in Nintendo Power. His thumb muscle had been severed, so he learned how to play Super Mario Bros. 3 with his feet. That was a dedication to gaming that was on a level which I could barely comprehend. My thoughts returned to that incident as I looked over AbleGamers.com, a website devoted to helping disabled gamers. How much dedication, I wondered, does it take to overcome a disability to play games? Could some of them be the most hardcore gamers I could find?
The exact definition of a hardcore gamer is up for debate, but I believe that every definition has this criteria: How much trouble are you willing to go through in order to play a game? Whether it's honing your skills for hours or learning the game mechanics' formulae, dedication and perseverance are the mark of a hardcore gamer. And what requires more dedication than overcoming a physical limitation in order to play a game?
read full article here
We want to here what you have to say so please share
What we’ve been waiting for.
The University of California in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Pioneer Portfolio have been working on a fantastic health games site this year for their national program Health Games Research. Health Games Research funds research to advance the innovation and effectiveness of digital games and game technologies to improve health.
Just recently they launched the bulk of their website content in the form of a database, the Health Games Research Database, which has been getting quite a bit of attention these last few days. Why? Because it’s the largest database of health games and related conferences, organizations, publications, and resources to date.
read full article at Health Gamers
Exergames of the future.
HardCORE Swimming is an Exertion Game prototype that combines the use of a Wii Fit balance board, Wii controller and nunchuk to swim through a shark-infested sea while collecting treasure.
read the full article and see video at Health Gamers