Rectech Newsletter

D2: An Advanced Virtual Environment Exercise Device (AVE2D) for Promoting Socially Engaging Physical Activity in People with Disabilities

One of the most effective ways to increase physical activity is to engage in cooperative, collaborative, or competitive exercise. However, people with disabilities often face a number of barriers (i.e., inaccessible facilities, equipment, transportation, etc.) that prevent them from participating in socially engaging physical activity. We seek to develop an advanced virtual environment exercise device (AVE2D) that can provide opportunities for people with disabilities to socially engage in shared or group physical activity with friends in distant locations. This project builds on the successful completion of two projects from the previous cycles of funding (2002-2012). We will incorporate five unique innovatives in this D1 project: a) utilize readily available GPS enabled video cameras to more easily create real-world recreational venues, b) enable a socially interactive shared virtual exercise experience, c) add realistic resistance and speed control of both arm and leg exercise inputs based on change in the virtual terrain, d) add directional steering and flexible exercise motion capability, and e) enable real-time exericse/performance monitoring. Our ultimate goal is to increase exercise enjoyment and participation in people with disabilities.

The specific aim of AVE2D is to develop a low cost hardware and software device platform that will allow people with disabilities to participate in more enjoyable and engaging exercise experiences. The proposed project will focus on the unique opportunity to integrate current and future emerging technologies in virtual reality with widely available, relatively low cost recording equipment, to build more advanced, and lower cost, exercise systems that can interact with the production of online video content. We will develop a range of optimized exercise “inputs” modules (exercise equipment adaptations) tailored to the specific needs/capabilities of individuals with disabilities. These inputs will initially include crank rotation and push/pull/pedal modules for both the arms and legs. In addition to navigating recorded video data of actual environments, AVE2D will be positioned to become an ideal research platform to assess interactions with video game content.

The ultimate objective of this program is to commercially develop advanced, affordable exercise equipment for both the disabled community and much larger universal markets.