In the past ten years virtual reality evolved from an unattainable dream into a very tangible matter. The rising interest from tech companies in VR headsets shows curiosity for exploring virtual worlds never has been higher. For quite some time, PreviewLabs has been following this development with great enthusiasm. Working on a VR project seemed like an interesting challenge, so we didn’t hesitate when we got the chance to participate in one.
We’re more than thrilled to finally be able to announce our cooperation in an ongoing serious game research project driven by VR, called wE-Move. The general idea behind the project, which is supported by Belgian technology incubator iMinds and the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology, is to stimulate children that are in a physical rehabilitation or fitness program to keep moving.
Using a variety of play mechanics wE-Move aims to turn dull, repetitive and exhausting exercises into a rewarding experience that aims to stimulate recovery. The goal is to develop two exergames that combine movement and videogames: one that focuses on gross motor skills and one that covers fine motor skills. Ever since the heyday of the Nintendo Wii, combining videogames with physical activity isn’t exactly what you’d call fresh. However, by introducing high-tech motion tracking and virtual reality, it becomes an interesting playground.
As the first step of a larger project, PreviewLabs has been put in charge of the brainstorms to come up with several game concepts (ideally four to seven per use case). Additionally, we’ll be prototyping at least two of those to assess which ideas show most potential. After some iterations improving and refining the concepts, two of them (one per case) will then be fleshed out by our friends at Sileni Studios to be used in the actual research.
While the details of the actual prototypes still are to be determined, we’ve already settled on what technologies we will be using. The gross motor skills game will work with Microsoft’s Kinect motion tracking technology and the fine motor skills game will utilize a combination of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and the Leap Motion hand tracking device.
Transporting the concepts of gross and fine motor rehabilitation into the realms of virtual reality and motion tracking, and infusing them with fun play mechanics, gives us a lot of freedom to build a more engaging method to do similar exercises. We can only hope children start to see part of their rehabilitation as fun and will be able to maintain their exertion for longer periods. We’re already very proud to be involved in a project that actually has the chance to make a difference in people’s lives, and we can’t wait to find out if our efforts will translate into a useful technology to make child rehabilitation less demanding.