We all know that regular exercise and physical activity is good for our health. In spite of knowing this, there are so many of us who are too lazy to engage in any physical activity apart from reaching for the remote control or for another crisp from that oh-so-tempting packet.
For those of us who can’t bear the thought of jogging or hitting the gym a few times every week, redemption may come in the form of a trampoline that conveys signals to a virtual space.
This concept is still under development by a research team at Japan’s Tsukuba University. The user jumps and moves on the trampoline. On the screen ahead, there’s a virtual image that depicts a group of buildings with some landscape; potentially, it could be anything.
Four infra-red sensors placed beneath the trampoline constantly sense the user’s centre of gravity to detect if s/he is leaning left, right, forward or backward. Each of these is programmed to correspond to movement in a specific direction.
For instance, if the centre of gravity moves constantly left, it is interpreted as forward motion. If the body weight is to the left for a certain amount of time, it is interpreted as “balancing motion”.
The image on the screen changes in accordance with this interpreted motion, giving the user a sense of virtual motion.
This concept is intended to help senior citizens, patients who are being rehabilitated after a stroke and others who need to exercise but may not be able to engage in conventional forms of exercise.
The trampoline is also helpful because it does not damage the knees or back as much, even though it does help in burning some calories.