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Wii Power Training

By Federick Karl-Magne Pulma (Ateneo M.S. ECE Student)

Don’t we all just love the wii? The Nintendo Wii revolutionized gaming, broke the barrier between the rudimentary console gaming and the video-game player, and basically left all existing gaming consoles in the dust. So I can go on and on about how great the Wii is (though not all the games are really impressive “yet”), but the secret lies not on the game designers but on a neat 25-dollar wireless controller that situates the gamer in the game.

How so? Slap in a few buttons, a 3D-Axis accelerometer, a bluetooth transmitter and an infrared camera and a little bit of engineering ingenuity and you have a controller that translates your motion directly onto the screen. May it be your character movements while playing golf, tennis, bowling, fishing, being Mario for an hour or trying to change into SuperSaiyan3? as Son Goku in Dragonball.

Then came the Wii Fit, promising to combine fitness and fun in one nifty little console, offering a convenient all-in-one trainer in a box with a variety of training modes such as yoga, balance games, strength training and aerobics which all are definitely brilliant gaming innovations.

But even before the Wii Fit came out, a Research Team from the Ateneo Innovations Center composed of students doing their thesis who are now taking up their MS degree at the Ateneo ECCE department have already conceptualized the a wii power trainer. And as of February 2008, their Wii-based prototype called the Insight PowerTrainer was finalized.

“While the guys at Nintendo were still playing, we realized the Wii technology could be much more useful”, said one of the innovators. The Insight PowerTrainer is designed mainly for strength training, performance enhancing tool for sport and as well as a for medical rehabilitation assessment. This caters to athletes who want to perform better, athletes recovering from injury, stroke patients regaining control and function of their bodies and the everyday health conscious individual.

How does the Insight PowerTrainer work?

Instead of streaming real-time accelerometer output wirelessly into the Wii gaming console, these innovators streamed this precious data (using open source software) into a PC and analyzed it with their very own diagnosis and analysis software.

“It's really simple, the wiimote provided the cheapest and easiest method of analyzing motion, all we had to do was make it talk to a PC”, said James Brojan, one of the MS students focusing on the Wii project.

The prototype software developed was built around various experiments varying from data taken from simple limb motions, torso motion, boxing and even up to submerging the while recording disturbances in the water.

But the algorithms used focused on weightlifting and powerlifting movements as these are the most widely used performance enhancing exercises for almost all physical sport. Testing the limits of the wiimote and of the human body's performance is paramount on developing a trainer.


Figure 1. Sample screen shot of the data acquisition process of the wiimote.

So what's in the box?

1. Detect the signs of fatigue, Instability in the joints during the lift, preventing injury by predicting failure even before it happens!

2. Monitor and Correct Flaws in Lifting Form, Analyze and Improve Technique, Maximize efficiency by analyzing path travelled by the bar in a motion, Improve symmetry of compound movements,

3. Train for Strength, Speed, Power---create a program for your personal limitations and exceed your goals!


Figure 2. Actual raw acceleration data taken from the wiimote.


Figure 3.Data analyzed from the acceleration taken from the wiimote on weightlifting exercise.

The best training effect is achieved when both fast twitch and slow twitch muscles are used at their fullest potential. The only way to achieve this is the find that “sweet spot”, that is the maximum resistance you can go against executed in the shortest amount of time.

Take away guess-work from creating the perfect program! Prevent getting injured by lifting more than you have to. Customize your routines for peak endurance, peak power outputs, a mix of both or just brute strength!

Find the human body's weaknesses --- Sticking Points!

In weightlifting, sticking points are defined as disadvantaged positions for a lifter executing a certain motion or lift. It's like when you're trying to push a refrigerator and at some point no matter how hard you push it just won't move anymore. Figure 4 shows actual sticking points shown from the data taken from the wiimote in exercises.


So what's the point with the sticking point?

Harnessing real-time data to improve performance by identifying the most minute indications of weakness in the human body is one thing, but now that we can see what the most trained eye can't even imagine. We can help people with disabilities, injuries or recovering patients to “fine-tune” their therapy and monitor actual improvement overtime! The point is that it is time to stop playing and start helping people get better.

Topic revision: r1 - 09 Sep 2008 - 04:11:29 - BearTiu
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