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Virtual Reality changes how being fit and healthy are achieved

A Science graduate from New Zealand’s University of Auckland topped the Computer Science category in a global competition, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘Junior Nobel Prize’.

More than 3400 students from tertiary institutions around the world submitted undergraduate work to the Global Undergraduate Awards this year. The organisation is a non-profit founded in Ireland in 2008.

According to a recent press release, his winning computer science paper explained his work on designing a high-intensity exercise game that combines virtual reality (VR), a heart rate monitor, and a rowing machine.

A digitalised exercise routine

The HIITCopter ‘exergame’ combines the heart rate monitor with the kind of rowing machine typically found in a gym.

However, the ‘exergame’ introduces a digital feedback mechanism that allows users to keep their heart rate at 70% to 90% of their maximum heart rate, which is the optimal rate to improve cardiovascular health and overall physical fitness.

Gyms can be a bit intimidating for a lot of people, particularly if they feel self-conscious about their weight or lack of fitness.

This project will be really helpful because it will give them the ability to do this type of exercise via gameplay.

How it works

The game employs novel algorithms that create a curated procedurally generated world, which intuitively forces the user into high intensity and low intensity exercise.

By employing an exercise machine that directly translates real world actions into the game world as well as the inclusion of a virtual reality headset, players were left immersed and engaged.

People who played the game were surveyed for feedback. They said that it was more enjoyable and they felt much more motivated than if it had been just a normal workout.

About the graduate

After graduating his Bachelor degree in both Science and Engineering, he now works for a New Zealand AgriTech business and leads a data science team at 25 years old.

The company develops agricultural technologies that can be used to shift cattle herds and monitor the health and wellbeing of dairy cows.

The company generates enormous amounts of data and employs machine learning techniques to analyse it.

Machine learning is one application of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows a computer to ‘learn’ and interpret data from a dataset, instead of being programmed by humans.

The graduate always had a strong interest in cutting-edge science and technology and was the first engineering student from the University to be awarded a non-member state scholarship to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

As a student, he had displayed outstanding problem-solving skills and analytical abilities as well as high motivation, enthusiasm, and eagerness to discuss solution approaches.

According to him, data science has the potential to transform the way everyone lives.

He’d like to contribute and use his skills to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges, whether that is in agriculture or space exploration or by combating anthropogenic climate change.

He will be awarded a medal and have his travel costs paid when he attends the awards ceremony in Dublin in November.

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