Research and Design
The i.play system has been developed in conjunction with a pioneering developer of sports concepts, Progressive Sports Technologies (PST). A spinout company from Loughborough University, PST works as an innovation partner to many of the world’s leading sports and fitness brands, and is the largest Sports Technology Research Group in the world.
Committed to leading edge developments that improve health and wellbeing, PST has designed i.play to tackle factors behind child obesity. Its extensive research into childhood obesity, the decline in exercise levels among children, and the role of technology in play revealed the following as key issues contributing to the increasingly sedentary UK lifestyle:
- a distinct lack of cheap exercise options
- a lack of encouragement towards school-based sports activities
- unsafe communities leading to children being unable to play safely outdoors
- low activity pursuits such as computer gaming and television viewing
- an 11% decline in the number of young people playing sport at school
- a 9% rise in the number of children driven to school
In response to this, the i.play system brings the electronic gaming keeping children indoors to the outdoor playground, providing an innovative way of encouraging children to exercise without even realising they are doing so. The i.play system provides a whole body aerobic workout, and improves fitness, agility and coordination. Over time, stamina is increased and reaction times improved, and the i.play system’s layout ensures all muscle groups are exercised.
Sculptural in appearance, the i.play system has been designed with the full rigours of the playground in mind, creating a truly inclusive and interactive public space. It is solar powered and vandal resistant, and although developed for 8+ group, it is suitable for adult involvement and use by wheelchair users, as it intelligently adapts to players’ performance.
The contribution of the i.play system to improving children’s fitness was recognised in the 2006 Academic Challenge Award when it won the Best in Health category. Run by the Technical University of Munich, the awards recognise innovative design concepts with real world applications.