The main problem we were attempting to solve by creating this project, was the issue of having children playing video games without exercising. 18 percent of children 6 through 11 living in the United States are classified as obese. The rate has steadily increased since the 1980’s. We believe this could be caused by the advancements in technological advancements in entertainment. Instead of going outside and playing a sport, children are more inclined to stay inside and play a video game or watch television.
To cope with this issue, we decided to create a video game that would include physical exercise. Through coding via processing, we were able to create the actual video game. We created a game that is built around the idea of guitar hero or piano tiles. We decided to build a game that would include jumping, because it is a simple action that still requires great physical exertion.
For the physical element of the project we built four load cell scales, and placed them together on a pair of two by fours. Each load cell was exactly 12 by 12 which was designed to support human weight. This made for a rectangular 4 foot by 12 inch structure that was four inches off of the ground. Through processing and an arduino uno, we were able to correlate the flow of tiles with the load cell board. We mounted the arduino on the bottom of the hollow load cell board. The wiring was also completed on the underside of the load cell board, making the wiring invisible to the eye.
The design of our video game was build around a 4 by four grid. The flow of tiles would reach an end zone on the bottom row of tiles. The user of the game would have to step on the corresponding tile on the load cell board to keep the game going. If the user stepped on the wrong tile or did not step in time, the game would end. The game provided three different speed levels for more advanced players. Since this project incorporated a great amount of coding, we did not need to make many iterations for the coding aspect. We did have two iterations of our load cell creation. Our first only included on piece of thick wood on the top layer, which did not support human weight. We then added a layer of thick wood to the surface and the load cell became much stronger. In the end, our project did achieve our goal of making a physical video game. It provided a workout that was physically taxing, yet also fun.
We faced several challenges during the course of completing this project. At first, we struggled heavily with learning the code, and figuring out how to create the layout in processing. In the coding process we ran into several bugs, and areas of code that would prevent us from further advancements. These bugs would sometimes take us days to fix and modify. In terms of our foot board, we did run into several problems. At first we had our piece set up each individual load cell making a total of four. When we made the decision to connect the four load cells to the two, two by fours, we ended up covering up some crucial screw holes for the electronics. To fix this we had to do some drilling to make new screw holes for the wires. Although this technique was not our top choice, it ended up serving its purpose and working well. Our final biggest problem revolved around causing the game to end when a tile passed the active zone. This was a very complicated issue because our code was extremely long and did not possess many functions. This meant that if were were going to fix this issue, it would mean redoing that majority of our code.
Our first iteration was the creation of the first generation load cells. These load cells did not hold enough weight with just one piece of thick wood. They needed to be strengthened through the use of more thick wood. To cope with this we added another piece of thick wood to the top and bottom doubling the strength. We had to modify the original boards to have longer screws to fit the two new boards. We made the two outside boards have larger holes, so the nuts would fit snuggly in the center of the board. This created an aesthetic and functioning load cell board. We then planned to use the load cells as created, without physical connection and setup next to each other.
In our next iteration, we decided to put the four load cell boards onto two pieces of two by fours. The load cells were only screwed in the sides so interference with the electronics would not be problem. The two by fours placed for maximum height having the two inch side being the base. This modification gave us two new added benefits. The first being the added height to load cell board. Since our project was designed around the concept of providing a workout, the added height would mean more strenuous exercise. The user would have to jump six inches up to the top of the board instead of only two. The second added benefit would be stabilization and organization of the load cells. They now have an exact placement and will be stable with weight placement.