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!