When video gaming meets exercise

PlayPulse combines game play with stationary cycles to get youngsters off the couch


Photo: Ane Aspen / 3T / innomag.no
PlayPulse combines the fun of video games with the exercise benefit of stationary cycling.

Julie Malvik

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 81 percent of today’s youth are considered inactive. So, how can one solve this problem? By combining games and exercise, the entrepreneurs behind PlayPulse believe.

“The overall issue we are attacking is inactivity on a global scale,” says CEO and Co-founder Erling Magnus Solheim. “Norwegians are, on average, very active compared to large parts of the world, but we are also struggling with an increasing degree of lifestyle disorder. Globally, inactivity is the fourth biggest cause of premature death, and the trend is not good.

“We believe the solution is to attack this in a way that appeals to a broad sector of the population, and to the many who today are not motivated by regular training or have experienced physical activity management earlier.”

PlayPulse makes training a gaming experience, by turning the spinning bike into a game controller so that the movement creates momentum and you control play on the board.

“The result is that you forget that you are exercising because it is fun to play,” says Solheim. “We believe that the way to get more people to move is to use the elements that make computer games cool and create a synergy of physical activity with the game.”

PlayPulse consists of a team of five full-time workers. The idea came to co-founder Kristoffer Hagen four years ago during his studies at NTNU, when he realized that he should work out, but he would rather play a game. He felt that this would have to be combined to make physical activity more fun.

PlayPulse team

Photo: Ane Aspen / 3T / innomag.no
The team (literally) behind PlayPulse, from left to right: Elina Willert, chief product officer & co-founder; Stian Weie, tech lead; Mathias Mikalsen, game developer; Kristoffer Hagen, creative director & co-founder; and Erling Magnus Solheim, CEO & co-founder.

“After investigating, he found no satisfactory solutions on the market and did his master thesis with Stian Weie (now tech leader at PlayPulse) on this idea,” said Solheim. “The results from the master project were so good that Hagen was asked to complete a Ph.D. around the concept.

“The results of pilot projects are, so far, extremely promising. The most important thing that distinguishes us from other similar projects is that we do not compromise on the gaming experience and allow the exercise to come as a consequence of the game being fun in itself.”

PlayPulse has been tested at 3T fitness center in Trondheim over the last few weeks.


Photo: Ane Aspen / 3T / innomag.no
The system is being tested in 3T Fitness Center in Trondheim.

“The response to PlayPulse is very good,” says General Manager of 3T Pirbadet Kristian Lyng-Jørgensen. “There are a very large percentage of those who return to try it again. It is easy to log in and get started, as well as that PlayPulse interests both sexes and many ages.”

Jørgensen says that they want to continue with the PlayPulse concept.

“We have a lot to learn about the product, and there is no doubt that this is an early prototype we have at 3T, but fundamentally we have received a lot of good feedback on the experience itself.” says Solheim.

So what’s next for PlayPulse? “We have had good dialogue with several other potential pilot customers, including schools who wanted the product,” said Solheim. “In addition, Helse Bergen [Bergen Hospital Trust, a health trust owned by the Western Norway Regional Health Authority] is also very interested.”

This article originally appeared in Norwegian on April 10 at innomag.no (www.innomag.no/kombinerer-gaming-med-trening-fa-ungdom-opp-av-sofaen).

This article originally appeared in the May 18, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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