Gaming the Body

One of the reasons that I feel wearable computing is part of that next step of (mainstream) tech is that we usually have some sense of ego or accomplishment tied to how we uses technology. Whether its something as simple as playing a game and getting that visceral reward of beating our high score, or using some kind of application where it allows for further enhancing by adding other components to it, there’s just something about this tech that says, “when I can further personalize this, its more mine.” And probably that is where some of the smile concerning Nike + Kinect Training comes in. Its not so much that you are getting yet another piece of tech, but in this case, the tech is pushing you at the core of that esteem factor – what do I look like when I’m in shape?

Its really kind of interesting though. You’ve got this combination of your game system, a camera/gesture-based controller, and even a mobile application, that works together to kind of push you into not only making your workouts count, but also putting achievement metrics right there also. If you will, it literally turns a state of gaming for pleasure into gaming your body into a better condition. Ethically, the slope can get kind of crazy (what is Microsoft doing with that information, will shopping be the next thing to be turned into a game – i.e., points for healthier foods, or foods that are on sale get you achievements that can be unlocked in Nike+ or even an insurance app).

The MotoActv is similar. Its just a fitness watch, but one where each part of your day can turn into a tracked and measured workout. One of the reasons I’ve looked at getting one of these is because of that – how many steps am I taking during the day, and when does my pace change throughout days when I do (am I faster in the AM or PM, on days I’m in the car more or on the bike more, etc.). Its just a measuring stick, but with enough data and (self-)motivation, could turn into one of those “if I don’t get moving at this pace on this day, then I won’t beat the pace of the past month. I saw this with me a few years ago when I was simply using Sports Tracker to measure my rides, and noticed that when I had a certain level of pace, a lot about my days went along smoother.

Given some advances in economies and civilization, it probably makes sense to ensure a level of fitness by doing something like this. But, I wonder what happens to your body if you game it like this for too long? Do you get lost in the game, or do you lose at the things in life that matter even more?