Lack of physical activity is a serious health concern for individuals who are visually impaired as they have fewer opportunities and incentives to engage in physical activities that provide the amounts and kinds of stimulation sufficient to maintain adequate fitness and to support a healthy standard of living.
Especially children with visual impairments tend to exhibit lower performance in motor skills, lower levels of physical activity and fitness, and higher levels of obesity.
Exergames are video games that use physical activity as input and which have the potential to change sedentary lifestyles and associated health problems such as obesity. Unfortunately exergames are not accessible to users with visual impairments as they rely upon the player being able to see visual stimuli.
The VI Fit research project seeks to explore how exergames can be developed that can be played without visual feedback, with the goal to increase the participation of users with visual impairments in physical activity and to improve their health.
All VI Fit games can be downloaded for free and played using low cost motion sensing controller (called the Wii Remote) capable of providing vibrotactile and audio cues.
Pet-n-Punch is a novel exergame inspired by whack-a-mole. Help a farmer protect its fields of carrots by bopping varmints on their head..... but make sure not to hit any kitties! This game you can play with either one or two Wii remotes. This game gives you a much higher workout than our other two exergames (bowling / tennis). Download Pet-n-Punch.
VI Bowling implements the gameplay of Wii sports Bowling. VI Bowling has a novel motor learning feature that allows players to find the direction in which to throw their ball using vibrotactile feedback. Audio and speech effects are used to indicate the result of each throw.
VI Bowling was evaluated with six adults and was found to yield levels of active energy expenditure that are comparable to walking.
Download VI Bowling.
VI Tennis implements the gameplay of Wii sports Tennis. This game provides audio and vibrotactile cues that indicate when to serve and when to return the ball. You can play this game against the computer or against a friend using two Wii remotes. VI Tennis was evaluated at Camp Abilities with 13 children who were blind and we found our game to engage children into levels of active energy expenditure that were high enough to be considered healthy (For more info see research paper about VI Tennis).
Download VI Tennis.
Requirements and Downloads
To play VI Tennis and VI Bowling all you need is a Wii remote ($30) and a windows PC with bluetooth support or alternatively a USB bluetooth dongle ($15) can be used. When you run the executable an installation wizard will install the game and place a link on your desktop. Prior to playing the game you will need to connect the Wii Remote, see the README for installation instructions. If you have problems setting up the game or you have feedback, do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. VI Tennis and VI Bowling executables and source code are distributed under the Gnu General Public License. Anyone interested in contributing to our project please visit the VI Fit developer pages.
VI Fit is a collaborative research project between Dr. Eelke Folmer and Tony Morelli (Ph.D candidate) of the University of Nevada in Reno, Dr. John Foley of SUNY Cortland and Dr. Lauren Lieberman of SUNY Brockport. We are not affiliated with or endorsed by Nintendo.
Tony Morelli, John Foley, Lauren Liebermann and Eelke Folmer. An Exergame to Improve Balance in Children who are Blind. Accepted for Foundations of Digital Interactive Games, April 2014, to appear
Tony Morelli and Eelke Folmer. Real-time Sensory Substitution to Enable Players who are Blind to Play Video games using Whole Body Gestures, Accepted for Entertainment Computing, to appear.
Alexander Fiannaca, Tony Morelli and Eelke Folmer. Haptic Target Acquisition to Enable Spatial Gestures in Nonvisual Displays. Proceedings of Graphics Interface (GI'13), pages 213-219, Regina, May 2013.
Eelke Folmer and Tony Morelli. Spatial Gestures using a Tactile-Proprioceptive Display, In Proceedings of Tangible Embodied Interaction (TEI'12), Pages 139-143, Kingston, Canada, February 2012.
Tony Morelli, John Foley, Lauren Lieberman and Eelke Folmer, Improving the lives of youth with VI through exergames, INSIGHT: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness , Volume 4:4, pages 160-170, Allen News, Fall 2011.
Tony Morelli, John Foley, Lauren Lieberman, Eelke Folmer. Pet-N-Punch: Upper Body Tactile/Audio Exergame to Engage Children
with Visual Impairments into Physical Activity, Proceedings of Graphics Interface (GI) To Appear, St John. New Foundland, May 2011.
Tony Morelli, Eelke Folmer. Real-time Sensory Substitution to Enable Players who are Blind to Play Gesture based Videogames, In Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Interactive Games (FDG'11),Pages 147-153, Bordeaux France, June 2011.
Tony Morelli, John Foley, Eelke Folmer VI Bowling: A Tactile Spatial Exergame for Individuals with Visual Impairments , In Proceedings of the 12th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and Accessibility Pages 179-186, Orlando, Florida, October 2010.
Tony Morelli, John Foley, Luis Columna, Lauren Lieberman, Eelke Folmer. VI-Tennis: a Vibrotactile/Audio Exergame for Players who are Visually Impaired, Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Interactive Games (FDG), Pages 147-154, Monterey, California, June 2010. [slides]
This research supported by NSF Grant IIS-1118074
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.