Sqord, the activity monitor being tested at Patrick Henry Elementary, is the new kid on the block. It won’t be released to the public until this summer, which is also when folks can get their hands on GeoPalz iBitz — a tracking system designed for families, with different models targeting kids and adults.
But anyone can already order up a Zamzee ($30), a product developed by HopeLab, a California nonprofit dedicated to using technology to improve health. The device looks kind of like a toy car that can be customized with a variety of patterned skins. The Web portal lets kids cheer on their friends and see their minute-by-minute activity, along with all of the “Pointz” — and real-life prizes — this movement is winning them.
It’s a competition any kid can be good at, says HopeLab’s Richard Tate. “You don’t need to be an athlete. You can dance around your room,” says Tate, who’s found that kids will even do their chores more willingly when they figure out that vacuuming the stairs can boost their scores.
Even more impressive findings came out in September with the results of a randomized study of 448 middle-school-aged children using the Zamzee monitors. Kids with access to the Web site (and those Pointz) got an average of 45 minutes more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week than kids in the control group. And that change was sustained over a six-month period, Tate says.
— Vicky Hallett