Interactive devices to help seniors with their exercise habits

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An exhibition of work by students from the Department of Industrial Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University was held in the University Museum, the theme of which was helping senior citizens with their exercise habits.

Students from Xiuyuan Lu’s team designed a shuttlecock with sensors and Bluetooth capability which can flash and make sounds (pictured below). It collects data on players’ performances and assigns them rankings that can be accessed through a mobile phone app.

“The shuttlecock flashes so that old people can find it easily, even when playing in dim light,” said Xiuyuan. “Also, to prevent boredom during exercise, the shuttlecock can play their favourite music. There’s even a count-down function to provide an additional challenge.”

Not resting on their laurels, her team conceived of improvements which could be made to their product:

“The bottom made by the 3D-printer we used is not delicate enough,” said Xiuyuan. “If circumstances permit, we will perfect later products so that they can be smaller, and rechargeable through the bottom.”

The product Altus (pictured above), designed by Kaitao Chen and his teammates, was inspired by music-based video games. During trials, as soon as the player stepped on the specially-designed pad the screen in front divided into blocks, showing a set of movements to for the player to copy.

The work by the students of Team 14 was a virtual plant (pictured below) made with simplified holographic projection technology. It seems to have nothing to do with exercise, but when people go out to take a stroll with a special belt they will gain ‘sunlight’ that helps the virtual plants to grow. When one plant is fully grown, the player has the chance to grow additional more beautiful ones.

Team 7 (pictured below) laid a layer of artificial turf, attracting attention from many attendees. The team presented how to play croquet in a new way. Team member Marlin explained:

“Croquet is popular among the older generation because it is not so intense, but can still get the body fully exercised,” said Marlin. “Our version is adapted to all of the various ways and regulations to play, and it trains the brain while exercising the body.”

They also designed a small app to combine on-line and off-line activities. The app allows users to learn more about croquet, look for people to play with, check for available croquets fields, and check weather conditions. Users can also upload croquet-related posts and check their rankings among friends.

The work exhibited were projects completed for the Year Two module ‘Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction’ offered by the Department of Industrial Design. Module tutor Xinwei Wang (pictured below, centre) commented:


“The team working on rehabilitation training product JOINTempo did very detailed research in a health recovery centre, and referred to this when developing their product.

“Another team working on Chinese brush calligraphy came up with a very interesting product,” said Xinwei. “Although it was designed for old people, with its traditional Chinese elements it could also attract young people to try it out.”

Module leader Martijn ten Bhömer was very happy with the students’ work: “It is very pleasant to see many students having done so much good work in such a short time,” he said.

“It’s also a fun new experience for students to present their work to people outside of their departments and subject area, and there’s quite an exciting atmosphere here today,” said Martijn.

By Ruotong Jiang; translation by Boqiang Xiao; edited by Danny Abbasi; photos by Liping Tian; additional photos by Danny Abbasi

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