Friday, May 26, 2006

Playing video games makes surgery safer!

A new study finds surgeons make fewer mistakes if they play videogames on the job prior to an operation.
Surgeons who warmed up by playing video games like "Super Monkey Ball" for 20 minutes immediately prior to performing surgical drills were faster and made fewer errors than those who did not, said Dr. James "Butch" Rosser, lead investigator on the study slated for release on Wednesday.

The research involved 303 surgeons participating in a medical training course that included video games and was focused on laparoscopic surgical procedures -- which use a tiny video camera and long, slender instruments inserted through small incisions. The study was conducted by Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City in conjunction with the National Institute on Media and the Family.
I say it's high time we had a policy of regular on-the-job videogame breaks for all professionals. Maybe start with doctors, firemen, pilots, bus drivers, and police officers...

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Powerisers - Jump Like a Videogame Character in Real Life

Characters in videogames often have unlikely jumping abilities. From Donkey Kong and Street Fighter up through modern 1st-person shooters, we expect there to be a "jump" button. If you've got one, your onscreen character can hop all over the place without ever seeming to tire. But what about real life? Check out this commercial to see what life would be like if everybody wore Powerisers.

One professional acrobat put some amazing videos online showing flips and spins, even a double somersault.

Then there's leaping over a truck...

I went bounding around town on my Powerisers yesterday for the first time this year - it's amazing how many smiling people you meet when doing something that silly. It's even more amazing how sore I am today - especially my hip flexors. It works an entirely different set of muscles than running or rollerblading.

Great goofy fun.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Kung-fu computer game delivers real kicks

Today's New Scientist describes a great new exercise game in development:
Kick Ass Kung Fu lets players fight onscreen enemies using real kicks, punches, head-butts or by wielding any improvised weapon they choose. A video camera captures their movements from one side and superimposes a two-dimensional silhouette of them onto a computer screen. A computer then translates the silhouette's moves into real-time computerised kicks and punches, enabling a player to take on virtual opponents.
So it's like Eyetoy:Kinetic but even more directly interactive. The current version requires a large space but they are working to commercialize the same technology in a home version.

The main website for the product is, where they say:
Kick Ass Kung-Fu is an immersive game installation that transforms computer gaming into a visual, physical performance like dance or sports. You can fight and defy gravity like kung-fu movie actors - only there's no wires or post-production needed, thanks to the real-time embodied interaction and virtual set technology.[...]

The game takes place on a 5 meter cushioned playfield suitable for martial arts and acrobatics training. Using custom computer vision technology, you are taken inside an artificial reality where the normal laws of physics no longer apply. Your movements are exaggerated so that you can easily dodge your opponent's bullets by jumping five meters in the air and landing behind his back. Using the dual projected screens, one at each end of the playfield, you can also continue by counter-attacking your stupefied enemy from the behind.

I can't wait to try this game. Check out the video!

(hat tip: "Andrea")

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