May 09, 2012, 8:30 AM — Combining fitness programs and video games is old news now. Nintendo's Wii more or less introduced the concept to a broad audience with Wii Fit and both Sony and Microsoft went along for the ride with products that worked with the Move and Kinect accessories, respectively.
The problem with most of these products is that the gameplay, if they even include anything you can call a game, isn't all that much fun. At the end of the day one of the best video-game related "workouts" I've ever gotten was in the gladiator part of Sony's Sports Champions for the Playstation Move. It wasn't intended as an exercise system but I really enjoyed the game and played it to the point where I'd wake up the next morning as sore as if I'd been to the gym the previous day. (Granted for someone as out of shape as I am, that's not saying a lot.)
Microsoft seems to have realized they have a similar situation on their hands with Kinect games vs Kinect fitness products, because (according to TheVerge) they're coming out with a new system called Kinect Play Fit. This isn't a stand-alone product: it's a Dashboard update intended to track fitness-related activity across all your Kinect games. Microsoft will also be selling the (optional) 'Joule' heart monitor that will help you ensure you're playing any Kinect game at a proper intensity level to attain your fitness goals.
I think this is a brilliant idea. Instead of playing some boring fitness "game" and hating your workout, you can play a game you like. Have fun and get fit at the same time. What's not to like?
This is all still living under the label of rumor, but with E3 just a month away we won't have long to wait to see if the product is real. TheVerge's sources say it'll require a dashboard update to deploy, so I'm going to speculate that we'll learn a lot about Kinect Play Fit in June and then we'll get to try it for ourselves after the Fall Dashboard Update, likely to roll out in November.
That'll give Microsoft six months to come up with some movement-based Kinect titles that adults actually find fun to play. Zing! (Sorry, I couldn't resist. But prove me wrong and share your favorite Kinect "get up and move" games in the comments.)
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.