Can the Eye Toy Kinetic really make you sweat? I couldn’t believe it!

We’ve had a PlayStation 2 for a while, and last year we got an Eye Toy camera for it. The game titles that use it are actually pretty cool: Antigrav, the hoverboard game; Play, the amusing little set of fun mini-games; Groove, the rhythmic hand-movement game just like Dance Dance Revolution is for the feet. The kids especially like Play, either playing Wishi Washi (or however it’s spelled) where you wipe soap suds off windows, or the Playroom where you can dance around with special effects being applied or be chased by bees — great fun to watch the kids run and hide behind the couch. So, as far as gaming console accessories go, I think this one’s got lots of potential. Great family fun, for sure.

Now, any full-body interactive game will cause you to physically exert yourself and tire you out and possibly even make you sweat. Sure beats sitting on the couch mashing buttons with your thumbs, right? But, if someone said, “Hey, you can actually get a real work-out, with the right software …” and you’re a skeptic like me, you’d laugh incredulously and think, “Yeah. Suuuuuuure.” Boy, was I wrong.

Well, this past Christmas, we got the EyeToy: Kinetic for PS2. It’s essentially a virtual personal trainer in a box, or so the marketing fluff claims. Well, it’s not as fluff as I thought. Into my third week of workouts, which it schedules and keeps track for you three times a week, I have to say, this is the real deal. If you take it seriously, you can get a real aerobic workout and perform toning and strenghtening exercises that will leave you sore the next day or two. The workouts last close to 30 minutes and include a warm up, a good mix of workout routines, and a cool-down stretch. The background music is even pretty tolerable, as far as modern electronic-beat pop goes. When you create your profile, it even records your height, weight and age, and will tell you how many calories you’re burning while you’re working out. As you progress, it adjusts and adapts the difficulty of your routine throughout the 12-week program it creates for you.

Kinetic comes bundled with what seems to be the next generation Eye Toy camera — this one’s silver, with a heavier base and a special wide-angle lens adapter, while the older camera we have is black and much lighter which makes it harder to position in a stable fashion. The one challenge with the camera is lighting: even on the “dim room” setting, it has a hard time with our cheap pair of lamps and the amount of light (and shadows!) they provide. But, overall, it’s more than adequate to get a decent work-out and play some games, as long as you don’t get frustrated when the camera mis-reads your motions now and again. We need to figure out a better lighting solution — we’re thinking about installing some track lighting. Maybe that’ll help.

The folks at Nike Motionworks have done a superb job for a first attempt at a “game” like this (if you can really call it a game). I’m definitely not the kind of person to go out to a gym regularly, and being able to do my routine in the evening, in my own home, makes it so easy I don’t find myself trying to make excuses not to do it! I think if more folks see real results with Kinetic and spread the word, this could be a real disruptive technology — in the near future, I can imagine some gyms setting up private rooms with a PS2 set up with an Eye Toy and Kinetic for people to come in and use. Could be a great business to start, once word gets out that it really works.

So, feel free to leave me questions you have, or if you’ve got a Kinetic, share your own story about it in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. Hi,

    My partner and I have had our PS2 for a couple of years now, and we both absolutely love Sony’s range of interactive party games (such as BUZZ, SINGSTAR, the Eye Toy games such as SEGA SUPERSTARS and EYE TOY GROOVE and Konami’s DANCING STAGE games). When KINETIC was released it sounded like a great opportunity, but doubts about whether we’d have enough space (or light) in our lounge to work out effectively meant that when everytime we went shopping for games it would reluctantly get put back on the shelf!

    Now it’s been out a few months and prices have dropped so I was able to bag a bargain on eBay and we’ve now both started 12wk programmes. Having only done 1 routine each so far we’re already impressed with it, and I’m hoping that by motivating each other we can make full use of it. In the past I’ve tried gyms but found the culture too ‘showy’ and the monthly fees were over the top. In the end (like so many others) I stopped going and relied on the odd cycle ride for exercise. What I like about Kinetic is that you have total privacy in your own home, and the routines actually provide a good, fun challenge that you can aim to better through practice. The virtual instructors aren’t patronising and with a warm-up and stretch session too you’re making sure that your exercise is safe as well. I haven’t had a chance to do any of the ‘mind & body’ games yet but they look a very calming way to exercise. Our programmes are due to run ’til the end of January 2007 so I’ll let you know how we get on, and possibly consider adding the KINETIC: COMBAT game to our collection as well.

  2. Paul: Thanks for sharing–definitely check in and let us know how your progress goes!

  3. Question: I have Eye toy Play 2 and the black camera.
    If I buy ET Kinetic (or kinetic combat) without the new camera. Does it work Ok without the wide lens adapter?

    Thanks,
    roger!

  4. my boyfriend started doing the kinetic workout routine about 2 weeks ago and its fabulous! he used to weigh 205 pounds and he is 5″10. he now weighs 194 and his BMI has gone down an astounding 13 percent. he has lost a lot of flab around his stomach area (something I am very happy about haha) and people around us have really noticed his weight loss. I started the routine myself today and boy it really does feel like a workout at the gym. kinetic works really well and I think everybody should give it a shot!

  5. Well, I’m back again. It’s been a few months now since we bought Kinetic and whilst I enjoyed it at first the technical ‘niggles’ got on my nerves, and these frustrations helped to kill it off completely…

    Whilst the concept of games and fitness training is fantastic, it’s true to say that if you don’t have a very large, pefectly-lit room you’re going to get frustrated with it. Our lounge is fairly spacious but even I had to re-arrange the furniture every time I wanted to use it, and this became a pain. Secondly, you need very good light and a contrast-coloured outfit. We were trying to make do with side-table lamps which simply weren’t bright enough and in some games the sensor would trigger itself – rendering my score unusable and bringing down my average somewhat. Very disheartening. Sometimes my own shadow would cause the triggering but there was nothing I could do about it as I was lit from the front! White tee-shirts against a cream wall also appears to be a no-no as the camera can’t always spot where you are.

    So, when I finally get a place of my own I may consider installing a decent light system to address these problems and having a white wall or pull-down screen for a background. By then the PS3 will be mainstream and maybe there’ll be a new generation of Hi-Def Kinetic. We’ll just have to wait and see…

  6. I’m about 9 weeks into my routine and am becoming frustrated; on several of the games I have achieved the maximum points (10,000) multiple time however, the personal trainer mode doesn’t advance me to the next level.

    Another question: why does the day’s routine show “Hard” for some components yet when it comes time to play that game, it only gives me medium or easy difficulty?

  7. Nancy: Sometimes, Kinetic makes your workout “harder” not by making the individual activities more difficult, but by making the workout longer–even by one or two minutes. As you continue throughout your 12-week Kinetic program, the hope is that you continue to burn more and more calories as your endurance and stamina increase. So, while it may not make the activity more “challeninging” even if you max out the points, it may be extending the workout time–even by a minute each week.

  8. Thanks for your response. Yes, I have noticed the workouts getting longer but wish they would also become more challenging. Just for “fun” today on a non-workout day, I built my own routine using all hard or medium levels and felt like I’d spent my time much more efficiently. I got a 9000 or better on all 5 and could tell I had worked out. It really was much more satisfying!

    Do you know how often the program re-evaluates your progress? I’m now starting week 11 and plan to finish but am still hoping the difficulty from my personal trainer will increase.

  9. Nancy: I can’t say with certainty as I don’t have insight into the code, but from experience it seems to evaluate your progress after each week.

    I think creating your own routine on non-workout days to “push yourself a little harder” is the right way to go. The last thing you want is for the normal workout to become too strenuous or difficult on you–it might discourage you from keeping up the program. Regular, consistent exercise, even at a lower impact, is better than becoming discouraged and stopping to exercise at all.

    Once you complete one cycle of the program, you can definitely start another one and you’ll find that it should get harder much quicker as you’re no longer learning the routines and consistently performing well on them.

    Are you exercising for general fitness, weight loss, or body conditioning? How’s it going? Are you seeing the positive results you were looking for?

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Yes, I think you’re right about re-evaluating every week. I thought at the end of last week (week 10) it would take into account my straight A+’s on mostly easy and a couple of mediums but Anna said she wasn’t changing the difficulty level. I’m actually pretty frustrated with that and am looking forward to finishing soon so I can start fresh. It’s also taken me awhile to get the lighting thing worked out and I still have problems depending on what time of day it is and what’s in the background. Now that I have some of the kinks worked out, I know my scores will be higher.

    My goal with Kinetic was for general fitness, toning, and feeling better in my clothes. I can tell the difference but am looking forward to working on harder routines in the future.

    I also have the Fitness program but haven’t started that yet. Seems like that might feel more like exercising.
    Bleck. I’ll probably give it a go after finishing this Kinetic cycle. Don’t have time for both.

    Have you tried Play 2 with Eye Toy?

  11. Hey .. even though I’m only on Week 3 I am struggling with Nancy’s problem too (my programme started on the medium fitness level) – I had assumed it was some bug in the program which was either displaying the wrong difficulty level at the end or playing the game on the wrong difficulty level. It’s annoying when you’re hoping to see progress. A word of maybe(?) warning – when I checked the instruction booklet in case this was a design “feature”, I noticed that if you’ve already completed a 12-week program and start another, it just cycles through weeks 9-12 of the next difficulty level. Which I guess could get boring quite quickly.

    That said, I am really enjoying it and look forward to the sessions, though unfortunately I think all the wine and lunches out are cancelling out any weight-loss benefit at the moment! 😉

    Bex

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