Xbox Fitness - The Lowdown
Posted by Mike Zatorski
During a demo of the new Xbox One-exclusive Xbox Fitness service, Microsoft Studios showed how Kinect is not only capable of tracking the player's body, it can also measure temperature, notice changes in colour in the player's face, and know which muscle groups are being activated during exercise. A model of the player stands in the top corner of the screen, mirroring the player's actions. As the player stands on the spot, leaning from side to side, the model's thigh and calf muscles light up as weight transfers from the upper leg to the lower leg.
According to the general manager of Microsoft Studios, Dave McCarthy, the game puts a physics model over the player's skeleton to determine when and where weight is being transferred in the body, and to monitor muscle tension. When the model's muscles light up, it's because the player is performing the kind of movements that would activate those muscle groups.
We know which muscle groups are working because, given the way the player's skeleton works, we know that when you're moving your arms a certain way at your demographic and for your body type overall, we know you're going to exert this much force on that part of your body.
Kinect's two camera feeds also allow it to track what might be going on inside the player's body. There's an RGB feed, which collects color information, and an infrared feed. The RGB feed tracks color changes in the player's body. When a player exercises, a few things happen. Their cheeks turn pink as blood flows to the face. The body heats up. Kinect monitors the start and end point of the color in the player's face. Kinect also tracks the player's body temperature. Using this information, it derives a heart rate that, according to McCarthy, has the accuracy down to a few beats per minute.
This feedback can be useful for players who want to track their progress, and it can also fuel competition. Xbox Fitness lets players see how they've performed compared to others in their demographic, and players can opt to take part in challenges to see if they can do better than their friends or their age group.
The service will be free in its first year for those who have Xbox Live Gold memberships. Microsoft intends to support Xbox Fitness by adding more content after launch and eventually introducing more workouts by different trainers.