Experience muscle workouts like never before. Engage yourself in an immersive gamified workout and say good bye to gym intimidation.
Muscle Sanctum is an interactive visual interface system for novice fitness enthusiasts to learn about muscle workout exercises in a fun and effective manner. It makes use of games as a medium for teaching exercise.
Jan'20 - May'20
Muscle workouts have myriad number of benefits apart from looking in shape, some of them include wellness, self-esteem, and body-mind fusion. These benefits come with challenges. People often have hard time maintaining perseverance and patience to see the results and hence 73% of Americans give up their fitness goals set as a new year resolution within a month.
I front-loaded my generative research by conducting a series of interviews with the gym goers and the personal trainers. This is to understand the overarching question of why people give up on their fitness goals over time. A quantitative analysis is also done by conducting a survey using Instagram stories feature with friends and family. Here are the synthesized insights:
After interviewing 3 personal trainers, 7 potential users and receiving survey results from 35 friends, the ideal user would look like Jason.
The solution is to teach exercises through an interactive interface where users would perform following the visuals while also receiving feedback from the kinect sensor. The experience is gamified in order to increase engagement and help improve long-term commitment.
Let's take an example of Jason's journey.
Jason logs into the system using Face ID and can see his schedule for the day. Instructions are provided at the start of the experience to get the user comfortable with the product.
The system prompts Jason to match the pose of the virtual trainer and follow along. Jason follows the trainer as well as synchronizes his breathing rhythm according to the visual on top.
Jason receives feedback when he performs the exercise wrong in the form of video and sound.
Jason is appreciated for completing the set and the UI moves to countdown for the next exercise.
Research says that while explosive movements help increase strength, slower movements help better in increasing muscle mass. There are also other aspects that play an important role in expediting the muscle growth and they are as follows.
I went on to test the hypothesis of whether interaction design modules can help in learning exercises effectively. I created prototypes using physical computing and computer vision to test the aspects of body form, breathing pattern, hypertrophy and repetition duration. The tests yielded positive results as the users felt effective and engaging to follow visuals and perform rather than doing it by themselves. If interested to know more about these tests, refer to the documentation below.
An immersive environment using forest and medatative theme is designed in Unity. The idea behind this is to bring a sense of calmness and focus to the user while exercises are performed.
Body motion dataset of all the exercises performed by a certified trainer were captured in a high-end motion capture facility. This data is tallied with the real-time data from Kinect to track the exercise and provide necessary feedback.
In order to create an engaging experience, I took visual inspiration from game design and used some of the underlying principles that captivates users.
“ There is so much I love about this, above all the breathing sun is extremely meditative. Meditation + lifting together is an unexpected but natural connection. ”
- Amelia Wellers, MBA, Cornell Tech
“ This product will have a great market for in-home exercises due to the COVID influence. Your next steps should be creating a storyline and designing the game experience. ”
- Harpreet Sareen, Associate professor at Parsons School of Design, Ex-MIT
The current experience is only limited to 2 exercises due to time constraints. In the future, I envision to finish the entire experience from start to finish of the day's workout.
As this product is a gamified experience, a full blown storyline should be designed that incorporates all the important exercises in the gameplay.
Due to COVID-19 user testing was limited to one user. Once things settle down the immediate next step would be to test for understanding instructions and usability of UI with multiple users.
User test each and every core functionality of the product and improvise the tech and user experience in tandem.
If interested, the full documentation of the project is here.