Virtual Reality, Autism and Exercise

Astrojumper: motivating children with autism to exercise using a VR game

Children with autism have shown substantial benefits from rigorous physical activity, however, it is often difficult to motivate these children to exercise due to their usually sedentary lifestyles. To address the problem of motivation, we have developed Astrojumper, a stereoscopic virtual reality exergame which was designed to fit the needs of children with autism. We use electromagnetic trackers and a 3-sided CAVE to present virtual space-themed stimuli to the user, who must use physical movements to avoid collisions and gain points. We can use Astrojumper not only to motivate exercise, but to evaluate the different ways people with and without autism interact with an exercise tool. Preliminary playtesting of Astrojumper has been positive, and we plan to run an extensive evaluation assessing the effectiveness of this system on children with and without autism.

Evaluation of the Exertion and Motivation Factors of a Virtual Reality Exercise Game for Children with Autism

Children with autism experience significant positive behavioral and health benefits from exercise, though many of these children tend to lead sedentary lifestyles. Video games that incorporate physical activity, known as exergames, may help to motivate such children to engage in vigorous exercise, thus leading to more healthy lifestyles and reducing the likelihood of obesity. In this paper, we present a study of physical activity and motivation level for ten children with autism as they played an immersive virtual reality exergame that involved fast-paced full-body movement


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