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 most 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 his fields of carrots by bopping varmints on their head..... but make sure not to hit any kitties! You can play with either one or two Wii remotes.
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.
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.
Requirements and free downloads for the VI Fit Exergames can be found at http://www.vifit.org.