Virtual Exercise Device for Promoting Physical Activity

 D.2. An Advanced Virtual Environment Exercise Device (AVE2D) for Promoting Socially Engaging Physical Activity in People with Disabilities

Background

Enjoyment and social support are important factors in facilitating leisure-time physical activity. Effective strategies to increase engagement in physical activity oftentimes include cooperative, collaborative, or competitive exercise.  Unfortunately, youth and adults with mobility disability (i.e., non-ambulatory or limited ambulation) face a number of barriers and have limited access to the more enjoyable types of physical activity such as team and individual sports (e.g., golf, tennis, jogging), leisure (e.g., walking, hiking, cycling), and task-specific activity (e.g., shopping at indoor malls, walking the dog, etc.).

 

Aim

The goal of AVE2D is to create a universal, modular exercise device that can be mass-produced at an affordable cost, thereby providing people with mobility disabilities an opportunity to participate in more enjoyable and engaging exercise experiences.

 

Methods

The current project is advancing this work by incorporating five unique and innovative initiatives: a) utilizing readily available GPS enabled video cameras to more easily create real-world recreational venues; b) enabling a socially interactive shared virtual exercise experience; c) adding realistic resistance and speed control of both arm and leg exercise inputs based on change in the virtual terrain; d) adding directional steering and flexible exercise motion capability; and e) enabling real-time exercise/performance monitoring.

 

RecTech in partnership with PushProduct Design, LLC has developed a successful prototype of AVE2D. This phase effort has developed and constructed an advanced control system to act as the foundation to enable AVE2D to provide exercise conditioning for users with asymmetric capabilities. This effort has been specifically focused on addressing key gaps in the market that current equipment often does not address, e.g., allowing the user’s “weak” side or limb axis to be properly conditioned.

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Figure 1. Latest prototype with advanced control system including asymmetric upper axis resistance control and augmented power to leg axis.

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Figure 2. Programmable control system detail.

This control system has the ability to provide specific right and left side resistance and cadence-related settings “tuned”for specific conditions. The control system can also provide supplemental power to the leg axis for individuals with a range of potential exercise needs (e.g. incomplete SCI who could benefit from leg-related exercise in a recumbent or standing position).

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Figure 3. Below are example screens and diagrams showing how resistance on the right and left sides of the body can be adjusted both manually and with algorithms to control relative resistance on each side to achieve uniform RPM/cadence.

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Figure 4. Conceptual image of prototype CAD taken from animation showing ultimate mass production design.

Push PD, LLC filed provisional patent with US Patent Office (based on Push’s experience with securing intellectual property for corporate clients) to create maximum value for potential strategic commercialization partners