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Sensor mat brings the game of hopscotch into the 21st century

30 October 2012

Fraunhofer researchers have developed an interactive learning system that is intended to motivate the user to exercise more, but in a playful way.

Children and adults can use the system to stay fit and learn at the same time. And the highlight - the system records the intensity of the physical activity instantaneously displaying it.

Physical activity is extremely important, applying equally to both young and old. People who exercise regularly are healthier, are rarely overweight and increase their power of concentration. Staying physically and mentally fit – with the interactive learning system HOPSCOTCH every age group can do this easily and playfully.

HOPSCOTCH consists of a sensor mat that is subdivided into nine fields, and each field has several letters and a number in it. The mat is connected to a monitor via a cable, and tasks from various fields of knowledge are displayed on the monitor. In order to complete the task the user presses on the fields of the sensor mat in the correct order and enters words or numbers.

Dr Martina Lucht, a media scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau, came up with the idea for the mat when she saw a hopscotch grid drawn on the street.

Lucht and her team worked closely with researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen to further develop HOPSCOTCH and added ActiSENS, a motion sensor developed by Fraunhofer IIS that measures physical activity. ActiSENS registers all of a person's movements, records their intensity and then rates them.

The module determines whether the user simply tapped the fields with their foot or actually jumped and hopped on them. The feedback is displayed on the monitor in real time using five bars.

"It doesn‘t just matter whether or not the task was completed, but also how," explains Martin Rulsch, a computer scientist at Fraunhofer IIS. "ActiSENS tells the user whether or not they have moved enough. The goal is to motivate the user to move more and have fun."

The small sensor is housed in a box that is hooked to the user's belt. The data is read in real time and transmitted via Bluetooth to a terminal device, such as a television. A mobile phone can also be used as an output device and the data can be saved to a flash memory and transmitted to a PC later for evaluation.

The researchers at Fraunhofer IIS and Fraunhofer IDMT will be presenting their system at the Medica 2012 trade fair in Düsseldorf from November 14-17 at the Fraunhofer joint stand (F05) in Hall 10.

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