CES Coverage 2013: United Health Care teams up with Konami

CES Coverage 2013: United Health Care teams up with KonamiBy Michael Blain

Of the many forms of innovation I experienced walking the floors of the Consumer Electronics Show today, the unified effort of these two companies seemed the most intriguing.

From the official press release:

“LAS VEGAS (Jan. 8, 2013) – UnitedHealthcare and KONAMI Digital Entertainment, Inc., today announced at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) a joint effort to reduce childhood obesity through KONAMI’s new DanceDanceRevolution (DDR) Classroom Edition, the latest iteration of the wildly popular dance game that has shown to encourage physical activity among adults and children.

DDR Classroom Edition is an interactive video game, also known as an “exergame,” that combines physical activity with energetic music and visuals. The game and associated hardware technology, which was developed by Performance Designed Products, enables up to 48 students to participate simultaneously, using wireless mat controllers that feature a smart card reader that tracks each student’s individual progress. While students move to the beat, teachers receive vital information about their students’ health including, steps, body mass index (BMI) and caloric burn rate.”

Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) has never waned in global popularity, and after personally witnessing my younger brother drop myriad pounds of excess fat years ago from an exercise program primarily focused around this very game, I can fully attest that what they are now attempting to integrate into schools is not a gimmick. The main problem with personal versions of DDR has always been having an adequate pad to use for the game. Most pads sold at video game stores are made of a soft vinyl-like composite or a similar facsimile, whereas the arcade unit boasts sturdy metal platforms and even a handrail on most machines for support. The Classroom Edition pads obviously do not come with a handrail, but they are as sturdy and reactive as its arcade predecessors.

I was informed that a twelve unit set for a school would cost in the rage of about $13k, with price breaks occurring in ascending multiples of twelve. Considering the budget that most grade schools and high schools spend on athletic teams that have no hope of a state championship it is not a hefty price tag. Especially considering that if it is fully implemented it can be a major catalyst in having an all around more physically fit student body. I really can’t think of a more enjoyable addition to any gym class and if the Presidential Fitness Test is still a thing, then this is the simple key to acing it.

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