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Blog

How To Tackle Obesity In Your Spare Time

Sep 27 2016

When interaction designer Alex S. finally decided to get serious about exercise, he knew exactly what to do. He bought a cheap stationary bike on Amazon and dusted off his old Xbox.

Alex was a self-described gaming addict in his college days, but hadn’t touched his console in years. He knew his old habit would be the strongest incentive for working out. At the same time, he recognized that a simple post-workout reward wasn't gonna cut it, not to mention the temptation to skip the workout altogether with a perfectly functioning Xbox so close at hand.

Time to wield his ninja hacking skills.

Final 02 Resized

Alex adjusting duration and intensity on his new (addictive) weight-loss machine.

The result is Cykill, a simple tweak that connects your gaming console’s power source to an exercise bike. The only way to start the console is by riding the bike. Fail to pedal fast enough and Cykill will cut the power using a “kill switch”—a disaster for serious gamers—which not only erases game progress, but can also corrupt the console’s hard drive. “After a big scene in the game you will see the Cykill LED meter appear," he said. It gets dangerously close to power-off, which forces you to pedal like mad in order to stabilize it. "What a silly but effective invention this is!”

Final 04 Resized

Alex on the Cykill, an exercise-bike-gaming-console that interrupts your game if you stop pedaling.

After using his invention for three months to impressive results, Alex was ready to share it with the world. He made the project open source and submitted it to Hackaday. “I never intended this to be shared online. But then I realized, there are millions of Americans who are challenged with excessive gaming and weight gain—many of them kids and teens." Is Cykill is the answer to obesity for game-obsessed kids of America? "I feel it is definitely worth a shot,” he said.

Learn more about how Alex made Cykill on IDEO Labs, at his website Fuzzy Wobble, and on his project page at Hackaday.

Cykill Controller

The Cykill dashboard.

  • Alex S.

    Interaction Designer, IDEO New York
    I am a digital alchemist currently working in IDEO NYC. I have been keeping it weird at IDEO since 2013. So long as no one has any clue what I am doing, then I can't be doing anything wrong. Right?
  • Anna Silverstein

    Marketing Lead, IDEO New York
    A former actor and improviser, Anna lives for moments of hilarious vulnerability and unexpected candor. She finds these daily as mother to her 2-year-old son.

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