Painting the Roses Red
I have spent this week working on Looking Glass therapy games that utilize the Kinect to track user positions and movements. I have been trying to perfect my Robot Alien versus UFOs game. Last week, the robot alien was a little jumpy at times, and was not moving through the full range of the screen. I have adjusted the game so that the movements are smooth and predictable, and the robot alien traverses the entire screen as the user moves their left arm through their complete range of motion. I am working on the sensitivity factor (see last week's blog post), and am planning to adjust it so that it is optimized for a range of 1 to 10 (1 being for a typically abled person with no motor impairments, and 10 being for an individual with very limited mobility, and 2 - 9 being for individuals with motor skills between these two extremes).
I am building Looking Glass therapy games targeted for children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is defined as a group of neurological disorders that impair body movement and muscle coordination, and can also affect hearing, vision, and cognitive function. Motor impairments resulting from cerebral palsy include muscle weakness, tightness, unsteady gait, and challenges with coordination. Cerebral palsy cannot be cured, but physical and occupational therapy can help individuals increase independence by maintaining and building strength, range of motion, and coordination.
The Robot Alien versus UFOs game focused on buidling the user's left shoulder range of motion. The game I have developed this past week focuses on building the user's coordination skills. It also can help with upper body endurance and range of motion. The game is called Painting the Roses Red. The user controls two playing card characters, one with their right hand and one with their left. As the white roses appear on the screen, the user touches them to paint them red. Touching each white rose scores one point, and six points are needed to win. To encourage use of both arms, the roses on the right half of the screen must be painted with the user's right hand, and the roses on the left half of the screen must be painted with the user's left hand.
Over the next few days I will be working on making the Kinect adjust for the user's current position. In other words, even if the user is not perfectly centered infront of the Kinect, the Kinect with adjust so that they are positioned in the center of the screen (gaming space). I am also working on adjusting the game object's range for different sized users. In other words, the Kinect will detect a tall person and adjust the range down slightly so that the objects don't travel off the screen as the user stretches to use their full range of motion. The Kinect will detect a shorter person (or a child) and adjust so that they are able to reach all objects on the screen. I am currently working on these adjustments, and at least initially, the challenge that I'm running into is some resulting jumpiness of the object on the screen.
More to come next week!