The Realm: Adding physical resistance to 3D gaming

[Incorporating not just tracking, touch or vibration but physical resistance in screen-based and more immersive technologies has exciting potential applications… This is from Forbes, where the story includes other pictures and a 2:37 minute video; for more information see –Matthew ]

The Realm system

World’s First 3D Force Gaming Tech Launches Crowdfunding Campaign on Kickstarter

Jason Lim

In the backyard of a terrace house in the Sydney suburb of Paddington, the world’s first gaming system that measures energy expenditure whilst using resistance, is being developed. The start-up behind it is The Realm, a tiny team with a big vision.

Many have attempted to make gaming more life-like by incorporating 4D elements of vibration like the KOR-FX and by using muscle control like the Myo. But none have taken advantage of resistance to make game play, feel physically real.

It works by strapping on a vest around the torso, with two resistance bands that connect from the waist to your hands. Hand and arm actions like waving, lifting, punching or grabbing is controlled by the speed and distance at which you move them. Harder and faster, means harder and faster in the game.

Like the revolutionary Oculus Rift virtual reality goggle that raised more than $2.4 Million from 9,522 backers on Kickstarter, The Realm is aiming to crowd-fund its first investment of $160K on the platform. If the goal is reached, The Realm will be able to produce 600 Software Developer Kits (SDKs) to get into the hands of creative developers to go wild with. If the funding target is immensely exceeded, the team will accelerate the roll out of the leg resistance bands to complete the system. As of publication, within the first few hours of launching on Kickstarter, the project has raised AUD$1,223 from 10 backers.

The Realm system is designed to be completely modular, meaning resistance bands can be changed for different strengths and extra accessories like guns can be attached to it. The system can be integrated with Oculus Rift to heighten the total virtual reality experience.

The use cases of The Realm are virtually limitless. Rather than play with just controllers by hand, your body literally becomes the controller. By involving your whole body into the game, you feel more immersed in it and have more fun. Since it is connecting the real world with the virtual one and replicating actual physical tension, the health and fitness category is a natural fit for The Realm.

In fact, the system originates from six years of research and development by Teeside University in the UK. Professor Ian Spears wanted to create something that could be used as a health intervention for people who are at high risk of metabolic diseases. The system has been through University trials and has peer reviewed data confirming that using it can help tackle metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease and type II diabetes. It is also being tested for rehabilitation after a stroke or shoulder reconstruction. [Pierre Lagadec ?], who wrote his PhD Thesis on the health effects of using [the] system, is a Co-founder and core developer on The Realm team. The system is patent pending for “Method and apparatus for measuring expended energy”.

According the American Heart Foundation, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. That rate has tripled in the past thirty years. In Australia, the news is just as bleak. Today more than fourteen million Australians are overweight or obese, including one in four children. On the basis of present trends it is predicted that kids today will have a shorter life expectancy by the time they reach 20 than earlier generations due solely to obesity. Many health professionals blame an increasingly sedentary lifestyle of not exercising enough, largely due to being hooked on electronic devices.

“Our vision for the technology is to improve the health and fitness of children while having fun playing screen-based games. I still want my kids running about playing outside as well, but we need to acknowledge the fact that screen-based games are here to stay and if there’s a way to add a fitness benefit to that screen time then that’s got to be a good thing,” said Matt Long, Co-founder of The Realm.

So rather than playing shooter games or Minecraft with fingers, kids can get up, give their body a good workout and have fun at the same time. Of course, the fun is not restricted to kids. I tested out the system by playing a zombie killing game, where I had to slice up zombies with a sword; and a boxing game, where I had to use a combination of upper cuts, hooks and ducks. After a few minutes, my heart rate jumped and I started to sweat. You can imagine how fun it would be to competitively play a friend or a stranger in another country.

“As well as being a healthy way to play video games this system will enable users to capture a wider range of biometric data, giving them a more accurate and detailed picture of their health and fitness than any other product in the market,” Long said.

For developers that back the project on Kickstarter and get the kit, they will be the first to start testing and developing applications for it. The software is built on Unity, meaning applications can be played on TVs, Xbox, as well as iPhone’s and Android phones, allowing people to go outside to play.

You can back The Realm on Kickstarter here:


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