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Games 4 Health

What motivates people in their 20s to improve their amount of physical activity in a Dutch urban environment?


Rick Borgeld

Interaction Designer / Researcher

Paula Barreto

Marketeer/ researcher

Karen de Graaf


Suzanne Tromp




Unfortunately, it’s the end

Since last friday we have been working on the design, some small changes in the code, cables of LumiMate and the presentation. They were, again, some super busy days, but we managed to finish everything for Wednesday the 22nd.

The final presentations were amazing! Everybody together, totally prepared to proudly present their products and results from 20 weeks of work. It was great. All the guests were excited as well, we all had an incredible night.

To show you a little bit of our stand during the night, here are some pictures.


And this was our final video, the LumiMate promotion video, for the presentation and to show our work to everyone.

As we said, unfortunately, the 22nd was also a sign that the end was near. We are now just finishing some documents and details, and that will be it. It has been an amazing experience for all of us, so it is hard to say goodbye.

But first we want to say a big THANK YOU, to everybody that, somehow, was part of this semester and this project, and another big thanks to Marco, that was our coach the entire process.

Hope you all enjoyed our final product as much as we do!

Xoxo, Games4Health


“De laatste loodjes”

First of all: Happy New Year! (yes we are still allowed to say this)

It has been a busy couple of weeks. The first prototype was finished, but when we tested it, we discovered quite some bugs. Although Karen was able to fix some bugs, our programmer is going to work on them this week, so everything will be ready for the FINAL presentations next week. Yes, NEXT WEEK.

And…tatatataaa, we came up with a name! Meet LumiMate, the small interactive screen that reminds you to take a small break from time to time. Because, “a simple move can change everything”.

We hired a friend from HKU to create a video about the LumiMate, explaining how it works. We are really excited to work with him, as his drawings and style fit really well with our product.

This week will be about preparing for the final presentation, and finishing the final paper. We are going to design our own pillows for the officechairs and the frames for the LumiMate need to be finished too. Also, we are going to meet our partner for the last time. Since he is not able to attend the final presentations, we will do a separate presentation for him to show the LumiMate.

Creating our LED screens


So as you know, for the last couple of weeks we have been focussing on making our product more playful with the three different modes. Last week we talked to Wouter Meijs, who knows a lot about sensors and all that kind of stuff. He told us it would be better to focus on only the individual mode, because of the small amount of time we have for our prototype and since it would take a lot of time to build a database that could support this system. You can imagine, we were a little bit discouraged by this news. Luckily, Wouter introduced us to Pim, a programmer that told us that it is possible to create the three different modes. Imagine how happy we were with this!

Now the product will consist of one arduino that will be connected to four different pressure sensors. These separate sensors will then be connected to the four different screens. For us this means that we are finally starting to create our own stuff, because we will personally create the pressure sensors. Awesome! The connections will probably be by using wires, at least for the prototype. The wires will be used in order to make the programming more easy, so it will take less time to create the products. Of course, later on we will try to make it wireless.


Another important event happened last week: we presented our whole concept to our partner at the NISB. He invited a colleague that is an expert in interventions at the workplace, something that is really useful for us. She pointed out that it is really important to think about the story behind the product for our product to work in the market. Why would our product sell? What makes our product more special and better than for example the standing desks? Of course, we know the answer to this, but it is always interesting to think of different marketing strategies that could be applied.

For our presentation we’ve made a small video to clarify the problem that we are addressing in our project. It was received really good and we were asked if it could be showed at a conference about health (yes we are going to be famous). Just to remind you of what the goal of our project is, here you’ll find the video:

It’s time to prototype!

As you know, we are working on our concept “Officelight”. The Officelight will consist of a small LED screen on the desk of the employee. Everybody in the office will have one of these screens. This screen will be connected to a sensor in the office chair that will measure the time that the employee has been seated, and the time that the employee wasn’t in his chair. The screen will show the employee, in a non-intrusive way, when it is time to take a break.

screen next to computer

We decided to use a small LED Screen (19x10cm) with little LEDs that can individually change color. These LEDs can be programmed separately, so there are lots of possibilities with shapes and colors. Also, this screen is really easy to connect to the sensor in the chair. It will provide us the possibility to use different game modes, different shapes and different feedback mechanisms.

What will add a lot of playfulness to our product is the use of three different playmodes: individual, survival and competing mode.

(1) Individual mode

The individual mode is the most simple and is the one that will stay for a longer time in the screen. It will have the most natural change, from white light to yellow, orange, red. In this mode we want to use words and expressions to give a type of feedback to the user, like: hello again!; good job!; I’m bored. If the user will take a break, the colors will gradually change back to normal.

– after 5 days of doing good, your color will change for a day, as a reward.

– after 5 days of doing not so good, the LEDs of the screen will “die” (turn off).

Schermafbeelding 2013-12-04 om 17.02.32

(2) Survival (team-up) mode

In this mode, the goal is to work together to be able to stay in the game. The players need to incentivate the others to take enough breaks. If one player hasn’t been taking breaks and his color changes to the dark color, the whole game will end.

The color used in this game is different from the individual one, to be able to see that you are playing the game.

If the players have been taking breaks regularly for 4 hours, they will all earn another color for 1 day as a reward.

It is only possible to play with a max of 4 players. The screen will divide into 4 small screens, each screen represents one of the players. In this way every player can keep track of the others.

(3) Competing mode

In this mode it is all about winning. The screen will change into a different color, for example in pink. In this mode the screen will again be divided into 4 small screens, representing the four players.

If player 1 has been sitting for too long and his color will change to dark, he will be out of the game. The players that are left, will still be in the game and compete with each other. The one that is the last one standing (haha) will win and he/she will get the color of the game as a reward.

Note that we will use a frosted glass on top of the LED screen, in order to make it less intrusive and “in your face”. Of course, the colors and the robot we used just work as in example for now, it is definitely possible that we will create another way to make the screen more personal.

survival or compete mode

Follow the yellow brick road

Last monday we had a meeting with Wouter Meys, an expert in using sensors to gather data on different things in the city of Amsterdam. He told us about all the ways we could implement a sensor in a chair. None of us is very technically minded so we were a bit startled by this, but we got the message that it will be possible without too much of a hassle!

However, for testing how people will react to the light, he advised us to use the Wizard of Oz method. This means that instead of using a sensor to change a lamp we, ourselves, will secretly control the lamp without the participant knowing it. This way we don’t need to bother about all the technical aspects and can start testing.

This was exactly what we did. During the whole week we tried different tests. We invited some people from our target group to be part of the experiment. In the first test, they needed to do an assignment on a computer, in a quiet room, with our lamp on the table and without knowing anything about our project. After finishing the assignment we gave them a questionnaire asking if they noticed the light and if they noticed that it had changed (in the first test we just turned on the light, with a normal color, after some time seated). The second test was with colors. The core was the same, but the light was on since the beginning and we changes to yellow, orange and red gradually. We gave them a different questionnaire after it. The last test was with people in their own offices, working normally and during a longer period.

With the results of all the tests we discovered that if they are too concentrated on the assignment (computer) and if we didn’t said anything about the lamp, they didn’t even noticed it. But the last question was, if we add the lamp into their normal office showing that the light is important if they would notice all the changes and would like it. All the respondents said that if they knew that the light was about sedentary behavior, they would be more inclined to move.

Right now we are looking for how to make our concept more playful and how we can test it again; making the situation closer to the real environment.


Meetings and a new concept

This week was a week of many meetings and changes. The first meeting was with Karel Millenaar, a game expert at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. We exchanged ideas and thoughts about our concepts, on which we weren’t too fond of. We expressed our concerns about our concepts and told him that we wanted to create something that caused people to have autonomy about moving. He told us to think of a funnel in where we would guide the user to do physical activity, but not tell them that they have to do it. He also told us that we had to focus on one piece of the target group and one subject, and start testing as soon as possible. With all of this information we went on to our next meeting.

A few hours later we had a meeting with Jeroen Hoyng, our partner from the NISB. We told him about our concepts and that we were not sure if they would work, and asked him if we could head in another direction. He agreed with us that our target group, desk job working people between the age of 20-30, wouldn’t like the idea too much. Together we came up with a new focus that we are going to use. We will be focussing on: specific workplaces, specific activities, groups of employees, target group and sedentary behavior.

We did just that. The next day we used the MediaLAB as a test setting and behavioral change as a subject, and started testing little changes in the office. The first thing we did is put all the garbage bins in one spot, so that people had to walk to the bins.pic
The outcome was not that great. We saw that people left their trash on the table more and that people were confused, because the garbage bins changed places. But there were people that still used the bins and they had to walk more; we found out that, by observing them, they didn’t seem bothered to walk there.

The following days were about brainstorming for a new concept, and after spending a lot of time we finally came up with a new concept called Office:Light (working title). The Office:Light is a system implemented into the whole office. Every employee gets a light at his or her desk or in his or her room, which will have a certain color. A sensor in their office-chair is connected to the lamp. The sensor will measure if someone is sitting in the chair or not. After a certain amount of time (for example 1,5 hours) of being seated, the lamp will gradually change of color. This color indicates the time they have been seated, and will give a cue to the employee that he has been sitting for too long.working

In this way people will still have the autonomy to decide whether they will change their behavior or not. The light creates awareness, but it doesn’t tell the user to get up. The user will have to decide this on his own. If the light shows that the user has been sitting for too long, the user can decide to keep on working. We expect this will create social pressure in the workspace, for example: one user will see that another user has been seated for too long and will ask him to get off his seat. We think it will work the other way around too. If one user has a good light for a long period of time, their coworkers will praise them about it and ask how she did it.

On the verge of prototyping

We’ve started prototyping some of our concepts! It was fun to do one of these really practical things! Making stuff instead of thinking about ideas etc. However, we decided we are not going to use those concept and we are going to focus on little active breaks during the workday.

Workshop interaction design

This week we had a workshop about interaction design and how we could design for emotion. An emotional designer, Flin Nortier from Soda Studio, came to tell us more about the basic human emotions in different stages of a user interaction and how we could design for this. We found out that for our current concept, people might feel ashamed. People had to find their inner child by playing games that they used to play as a kid, but people could feel embarrassed by this. We want to solve this by having less childish games and encouraging our target group to not play alone.

Trip to iFabrica

On Thursday we went to iFabrica in Amsterdam North with all of MediaLAB to find out if some of us can make our prototypes there. iFabrica is a creative workspace with all kinds of machinery. Whatever you want to work with, paper, 3d printers or 5mm thick steel, they’ll have some kind of a machine for it. We first had a tour around the building and after that they showed how to make a lamp of steel. Although we’d expected it to be more hands-on, that probably was not possible because of the timeframe we had.


Knowledge for the concepts

This week started with the Games for Health Europe conference that we went to on the first day (October 28). The presentations that we attended were about gamification and behavior change, public health and game design. We also met our partner from NISB there and some cool other people. What helped us was that some students from Eindhoven presented (and let us try) their games, for which they used the Kinect, in one of the stands . Another company, Ranj, is also working on a game that uses the quantified self and they gave us some nice insights in their project. All the conversations and projects there helped us to do some steps further on our concepts.

Foto 28-10-13 09 03 32

Then, on Wednesday, we went to the Quantified Self Meetup in Amsterdam. Our main goal was to see what possibilities are being used already around this subject. They presented some researches and ideas, totally different from each other, that used Quantified Self as a method and discussed them. It was good for us to see all types of projects that use QS and how they succeed with it. Most of those project were about tracking possible correlations between their daily activities or medication and a symptom or a disease. This is different from our project, but it gave us some things to think about.

From now on we will have some other workshops and we will also create better sketches with stories and personas of our concepts. The work is getting serious!


Concepting week

Another week has passed at the MediaLAB. The ‘office’ was really quiet during the week, because of the holidays for the HvA students. But our team had still a lot to do!


Diary interviews

On monday we finished the interviews about the diaries. Eventually we interviewed seven participants about their daily routine. They all liked the little diary and loved the design. Unfortunately, not everyone finished the ‘Connect the Dots’, but we still received some pretty cool stuff!

Dragon with Bikini

The key findings from the interviews were that the participants have busy schedules, and because of this, they are likely to be sedentary. During workdays, they didn’t think about getting small breaks to move around, and they were sitting behind the desk all day. Even during lunch, they wouldn’t move! Weather will influence their mood, especially when it’s bad weather. Also, when it is raining they are more likely to take the public transport if they have to be somewhere. Friends were very important for them to try something new. After being introduced and being taught the ins and outs of an activity, they were more likely to do it alone after.

Meeting the Quantified Self expert

On Tuesday we made a little trip to lovely Utrecht to have a meeting with Joost Plattel, co-founder of the QS group in the Netherlands. He really loved to track everything about himself and used approximately 5 different devices to do so. One thing he found out about himself that he slept better in an urban environment than at the country side. Crazy, right! Joost gave us some nice insights and ideas that we could use for our concepts and research. Next week we will go to the QS meeting in Amsterdam to learn even more about self-tracking and its possibilities.


Workshop 2

On Wednesday Charlie gave us the second workshop about concepting. This time we had to take our 30 ideas and we had to rate them between the numbers 0 to 21. The top rated ideas were evaluated by looking at the requirement list. Now we have four pretty fun and nice concepts that we are going to improve and make more explicit. We will make storyboards in order to know the different situations the user of the concept would experience. Next week we will post the extensive description of the concepts we have.

foto (5)

E-Fitzone and Concepting

This week was full of research, but also a bit of fun. We went to Eindhoven to the E-Fitzone over there. The E-Fitzone is a place where games and physical activity collide. It has an interactive physical activity space where you can play games, while also getting physical activity. Perfect for our research and a bit of stress relieve.

We met with Arkaitz, a Spanish employee of the E-Fitzone, who showed us all of the instruments they had. Of course we played all the machines. We started with an interactive floor and moved on to Dance Dance Revolution, Downhill biking simulator, real life biking simulator, rowing simulator, ice skating simulator, snowboarding simulator and we ended with a reaction game. We thought that especially the interactive floor was supercool, it made us do an activity without thinking about it. We were too busy trying to avoid a bouncing ball, for example.


In the end we spoke to Carla Scholten, who is the CEO of the E-Fitzone, about our project and the games we played. We got some interesting information from her, which we can certainly use in our project. She told us for example that adults mainly like to do the games which are fun but also give them a certain kind of feedback, while kids only mind about it being fun.

On Wednesday we finally had a moment away from our desk and had a first look into the concepting phase! It was was the idea generation workshop by the wonderful Charlie Mulholland, with the goal of thinking of 100 ideas which can be the possible solution to our problem. He started by removing all the barriers in our minds to a good brainstorm (no ideas are bad ideas in a brainstorming session and generating ideas is not just about being inspired at that moment, for example). Instead of writing about our problem definition, we had to draw it. After some exercises we had to come up with ideas to make our target group become more physically active. We had lots of different ideas! Some were a bit strange, especially after getting the assignment of making something bigger, things like taking your grandma for a walk became carry your grandma around. We feel like a number of good ideas are there as well. Now it is just a matter of organizing them in themes, choosing the good ones and generating more ideas if needed. We will combine different ideas and hopefully we will come up with the perfect idea in the end!