HopeLab has taken the step and invested $1 million into a for-profit company called Zamzee, a startup that is testing the notion that the addictiveness of games can be harnessed to solve this seemingly intractable social ill of youth obesity. Instead of focusing on weight loss or diet, Zamzee hopes to reward movement of any king in children 11 to 14, the ages when physical activity drops precipitously, according to research.
The Zamzee activity meter includes a three-axis accelerometer designed to track any kind of activity, so teens can get their exercise however they want. To encourage tends to exercise, Zamzee will offer both physical and virtual goods as rewards.
Early tests have already shown a 30% increase in physical activity since using Zamzee, so the method is definitely working. Steve Cole, a biomedical scientist at UCLA who heads research and development for Hope Lab, says Zamzee has found that combining virtual and monetary rewards can be successful. With that not all users will be as motivated as other, but the hope is that Zamzee will be a success story for some.