Development of a Novel Home-Based Exergame With On-Body Feedback: Usability Study



JMIR Serious Games; 10(4).




With more than 1.4 billion adults worldwide classified as physically inactive, physical inactivity is a public health crisis leading to an increased risk of cardiometabolic diseases. Motivating and engaging training strategies are needed to tackle this public health crisis. Studies have shown that exergames, games controlled by active body movements, are potentially usable, attractive, and effective tools for home-based training. The ExerCube (by Sphery Ltd) has been developed as a physically immersive and adaptive functional fitness game. The development of a home-based version of the ExerCube could increase accessibility, reduce barriers to exercise, and provide an attractive solution to improve physical and cognitive health.

The aim was threefold: (1) to develop a usable home-based exergame system, (2) to evaluate the usability and training experience of the home-based exergame and its early-stage on-body feedback system, and (3) to identify avenues for further user-centered design iterations of the system.

A total of 15 healthy participants (mean age 25, SD 3 years) completed 2 laboratory visits consisting of four 5-minute exergame sessions. In each session, the on-body feedback system provided a different feedback modality (auditory, haptic, and visual feedback) to the participant. Following the second visit, participants completed a range of assessments, including the System Usability Scale (SUS), the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES), the Flow Short Scale (FSS), the Immersive Experience Questionnaire (IEQ), and a rating of perceived exertions (RPEs) both physically and cognitively. Participants answered questions regarding the on-body feedback system and completed a semistructured interview.

Usability was rated as acceptable, with a SUS score of 70.5 (SD 12). The questionnaires revealed medium-to-high values for the training experience (FSS: 5.3, SD 1; PACES: 5.3, SD 1.1; IEQ: 4.7, SD 0.9. Physical (mean 4.8, SD 1.6) and cognitive (mean 3.9, SD 1.4) RPEs were moderate. Interviews about the on-body feedback system revealed that the majority of participants liked the haptic feedback and the combination of haptic and auditory feedback the best. Participants enjoyed the distinct perceptibility, processing, and integration of the exergame and its supportive and motivating effect. The visual feedback was perceived less positively by participants but was still classified as “potentially” helpful. The auditory feedback was rated well but highlighted an area for further improvement. Participants enjoyed the training experience and described it as motivating, interactive, immersive, something new, interesting, self-explanatory, as well as physically and cognitively challenging. Moreover, 67% (n=10) of the participants could imagine exercising at home and continuing to play the exergame in the future.

The home-based exergame and its early-stage on-body feedback system were rated as usable and an enjoyable training experience by a young healthy population. Promising avenues emerged for future design iterations.

Further Studies