CLIENT - PLAYDALE
EXPERTISE - DEVELOPMENT
Intelligent, Electronic Play System
i.play is the first electronic outdoor playground unit that revolutionised the industry.
Leading UK play equipment manufacturer Playdale approached Progressive. The brief, to develop a new piece of equipment to encourage energetic play, quickly evolved into a concept that taps into the enduring popularity of computer gaming.
In a game of up to six children, i.play issues each player or team with a sequence of tasks to test speed, agility, coordination, strength and stamina by running, jumping and twisting to hit the high, low and mid-positioned activity switches. Like a games console, it offers multiple levels of difficulty so players can improve their skill and view statistics to monitor their performance both during and after the game. i.play records and uploads via SMS its game data for future analysis. Although developed for a core 8-14 age group, i.play is also suitable for adults, wheelchair users as well as visually and hearing impaired players.
Progressive used heart rate monitors on both adults and children to test both the prototype equipment and software to make sure i.play enabled children to exercise at appropriate levels of intensity. “Stealth exercise is at the heart of i.play technology,” says Professor Mike Caine, of Progressive. He continues, “If you make play equipment interesting enough, children will push the boundaries of their abilities in just the same way as they do with computer gaming.”
The research into i.play exercise used a wearable oxygen analyser to assess how many calories children are burning on two i.play systems installed in Leicester and Barrow in Furness. Progressive’s design engineer at the time, and i.play co-inventor, Phil Hodgkins, spent two years researching and developing the i.play concept as part of his PhD programme undertaken within Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Research Group, supervised by Professors Mike Caine. Phil explains, “The placement of activity switches is an important aspect of the design as we want to get users to perform movements requiring a large range of motion to progressively higher levels of physical exertion, yet they need to be easily accessible for most people to ensure the game is as inclusive as possible.”
The research team responsible for conceptualising, developing and validating i.play has been delighted with the positive feedback received from children using the product. Professor Caine is full of praise for Playdale who has taken the concept to market, having established manufacturing capability within its Lake District headquarters.
"Progressive’s innovative thinking and problem solving has provided us with products on more than one occasion that have been successful. iPlay revolutionised our industry as the first electronic outdoor playground unit and training buddies are a fantastic tool to incentivise all of us getting and staying fit.