Image: Ludica Health
Ludica Health pioneered immersive gaming for physical therapy. A new platform makes workouts available on consumer devices.
Staying active is important. Exercising is not. While senior living facilities often try to have fun fitness activities for residents, most older adults prefer living on their own – which means that many don’t get enough activity. Ludica Health, formerly “Jintronix” hopes to change that.
The Jintronix Journey
“Jintronix has been around since 2012, and we’ve really built our company around building fun, engaging exercise platforms,” CEO and cofounder Mark Evin told MIXED. The company shared its name with its first product, changing the name to “Ludica Health” in preparation for the release of its second platform.
The original Jintronix platform uses a Microsoft Kinect camera-enabled kiosk. The Kinect camera and special software tracks the individual’s body movements and relays them to an avatar in a virtual world. The system also collects data about the individual’s movements, creating a report for them and their health team.
Because the platform requires specialized hardware, it is marketed toward hospitals, physical therapy and rehabilitation centers, and care homes rather than toward individuals. It certainly meets a need in those locations, but it was never the end goal for Ludica Health.
“Our mission has always been, at some point, to take our concept of fun and engaging game-based activity to people’s homes,” said Evin. “At some point, around 2020, motion sensing using a webcam was good enough that we could do this using just the device itself.”
The technology came at just the right time, with the earliest tests of LudoFit beginning during the pandemic.
LudoFit uses a similar approach to Jintronix but works with webcams on desktops and Apple devices instead of a Microsoft Kinect camera. As a result, it can be offered as an app download from the internet rather than through a special hardware offering at participating locations.
“It was an obstacle with Jintronix because, in order to try it out, you had to get the equipment. The biggest opportunity with LudoFit is you can discover it and be on it in ten minutes,” said Evin.
That also meant that some elements of design and marketing had to change too, as they moved from a business-to-business model to a business-to-consumer model. “With LudoFit, the person deciding to use the program is the one that will be using the platform,” said Evin.
In addition to the greater discoverability and manageable download process, LudoFit also has a free two-week trial period. Even though I’m a good thirty years younger than LudoFit’s target audience, I decided to give it a go.
Am I LudoFit?
Once you’ve downloaded LudoFit and chosen an avatar, the program asks you questions about your fitness level and ability. I decided not to pretend to be sixty years old in my responses.
I am at exactly the age that I was proud of some answers, but not others. (Why yes, I did walk outside of my house five to seven days out of the past week. Fine, I admit that I do use my hands to get out of a chair.)
Some activities also begin by setting a sort of personal parameters. Before I could slalom ski in the Italian Alps, I had to demonstrate to LudoFit how many times I could go from standing to sitting in thirty seconds.
All the games involve navigating a preset course while collecting stars. Sometimes the stars are practically unavoidable while avoiding the course’s other obstacles, but sometimes you must go out of the way to get the most stars.
Games come with badges for completing distances or collecting stars. Most of these are advanced enough that I couldn’t beat the challenge in a single playthrough, enticing me to return to activities.
I was fortunate that there aren’t penalties for mowing down trees on the ski hill or knocking over cyclists in the Tour De France. However, I exercised my swearing muscle as I careened off course on the zorbing game and had to restart at previous checkpoints.
After each game, you select how physically challenging the experience was. Answers other than “just right” will make the game easier or more challenging the next time that you play.
The platform also generates a weekly report showing how many times you performed each of the program’s target activities. Reports measure weekly averages and compare to personalized goals.
A User-Friendly Fitness Tool
Throughout my conversation with Evin, he stressed a balance of three points: fitness, fun, and usability. LudoFit provided a passing cardio session for this millennial, and I do have my favorite games. Maybe a future article will be seeing how my dad likes it…