Combat Obesity - Running Games to enable children to have fun

Running Games to competitively enable children to combat obesity and to develop skills in sports.

Imagine something like giant Whack-a-Mole or a bunch of Weeble Wobbles where the various targets are spread out all around your lawn! A kid starts the game by choosing a COLOR. Let's say that one specific kid chooses YELLOW. Each kid, up to eight, chooses a different color. The kids are allowed to start out standing ANYWHERE in the yard! All the 'targets' are dark at this time. Then a PC computer inside the house RANDOMLY selects the coming color for each of the (participating) Weeble Wobbles, and sounds a starting countdown over a loudspeaker in the yard. The kids all get ready to run, but they do not yet know what DIRECTION they will have to run! Sudddenly, ALL the (participating) Weeble Wobbles light up from interior LED lights. So, SOMEWHERE in the yard, a YELLOW target just lit up!

So our kid who had chosen yellow now has to RUN as fast as possible toward that yellow target. When he or she gets there, the target could be SLAPPED to tilt it, or even TACKLED! The TILTING causes a 'pendulum gravity switch inside that target to get electrically closed, which sends a radio or audio message to the PC computer inside the house. What THIS does is to let the PC CLOCK do someting it was made to do, check the EXACT TIME by the computer CLOCK (to the nearest thousandth of a second). The PC then compares THAT (ending) time with the (starting) instant when all the LED lights turned on, which gives the INTERVAL that kid needed to get to that (yellow) target. The PC then does another STANDARD process, it RECORDS that time interval in a location in its RAM memory. It does this for all of the (eight) kids.

The weeble wobbles all naturally stand themselves back up again after the slap or tackle, which gets the internal gravity switch back to be ready for the NEXT HEAT!

After a brief delay so that all the kids could get up again and get ready to run again, the PC and loudspeaker makes a warning sound again, and now DIFFERENT COLORS are ready in each target. The kid who just got to the YELLOW target is free to stay right there or to go anywhere else in the yard for the next heat! Some kids might try to GUESS which target is going to be YELLOW for the next heat, to possibly get a head start at getting to it! But in any case, all the (participating) kids now need to run to a DIFFERENT target this time, to slap or tackle it. And the PC computer again calculates the time interval that each needed to trigger the gravity switch in that new target. The PC then ADDS that interval to the previous stored time interval (in its RAM memory).

This all repeats a total of EIGHT times, for eight separate HEATS where each (participating) kid eventually has to run to EVERY ONE of the eight target weeble wobbles. Note that NO KID has any advantage, because eventually, he or she has to run to every one of the eight targets.

After the eight HEATS are done, the PC compares the TOTAL RUNNING TIME needed for each of the participating kids. Some music and fanfare over the loudspeaker, and then an Announcement of which color was THIRD PLACE. (the PC could easily be taught the actual names of each of the kids, and convert this info into announcing the THIRD PLACE KID. More music and fanfare, and SECOND PLACE WINNER. And finally, FIRST PLACE WINNER!

A couple minutes later, all the kids could be ready for a new race, and the PC memory can be cleared for a new contest.

Even ONE kid could use this game, to develop speed and strategy, where the PC could keep track of TOTAL TIME. A kid could find out if he or she was getting better or worse than yesterday! TWO kids could play this, possibly all day long! Or THREE or up to EIGHT contestants.

This game system is actually a lot more flexible than just that. Imagine that as many as EIGHT children are each competing at this large-scale Whack-a-Mole or Weeble Wobbles, where each kid has to run to and swat each of eight target objects. This is partly to make sure that each kid has to run about the same total distance during this game.

A standard PC computer monitors the exact moment that each target gets swatted (to a tiny fraction of a second, by using the computer's clock function, which easily measures to the nearest THOUSANDTH of a second for each value).

This game has MANY wonderful options! Say that kids got a PARENT to play! And the parent was really athletic, with long legs! The PC could RECORD the results, and see that the SAME color seemed to always be winning. So the PC could ADJUST the starting value of the parent's total time. After just a few RACES, the PC can learn to make sure that ALL participants have COMPARABLE chances to win!

The PC is aware of WHICH of eight possible target colors that each of eight separate target objects gets (which the computer automatically chose, using its RANDOM NUMBER generator, for each target identity.

So the computer never actually needs to know WHERE each of the eight targets actually is, as it essentially acts as eight simultaneous stopwatches or interval timers, and then the PC memory totals up the eight separate intervals for each kid, into its RAM memory, to figure out which kid won FIRST, SECOND and THIRD PLACE.

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This system is even far better than this! Say that a much younger brother tries to play with seven older boys. The PC notices that he is never competitive! So after several games, the PC makes an adjustment to the final time totals for that younger kid, which means that he now CAN actually win or at least come in second or third place!

This system also has around 15 other applications, as a Trainer for various sports, and even for a CRAWLING MODE for extremely young babies!

On a rainy day, the weeble wobbles could be placed INSIDE the house, maybe all in the same room (again for the fastest total time for the eight targets. The game gets much more interesting if one or more of the targets are put in a DIFFERENT room! A kid might not SEE the YELLOW target when the heat begins, so he or she needs to try to first figure out WHAT ROOM it might be in! But again, EVERY competitor would be faced with this same problem at some point!

Imagine that you run laps at the local High School Track. Stand one of the weeble wobbles near your lane, and just slap it every time you go by. The PC is then programmed a little differently, where you get to see your EXACT LAP TIMES, so you can even see if you are slowing down after a few laps, to know to put more effort into it then! You could even allow OTHERS to time their own laps (up to eight individuals)!

There is another variant which looks like a big tic-tac-toe board, 30 inches square. Only white LED lights in this one, nine of them, one behind each translucent square. You have boxing gloves on! ONE of the squares lights up and you need to PUNCH it as fast as possible. When you do, that light goes out and a DIFFERENT one lights up. The PC has several PATTERNS, either RANDOM or maybe a lot of practice with JABS, or combinations of punches. You will have to make 100 accurate punches, and the game records your TOTAL TIME for those hundred punches. An hour later, you could try it again, to try to get a better total time!

For several years, I have had this wonderful game which seems ideally compatible with First Lady Michell Obama's efforts to get kids to exercise more, and also with the NFL's Play 60 that they promote to try to get kids to get outside and exercise more. I would love it if EITHER or BOTH wanted to use my game!


I would like to join forces with someone who likes to experiment with electronic devices, to make a LOW COST version of this, where millions of families will want to buy them for their kids. All of my prototype systems, in my own large yard, were WIRED to computer PORTS, using a bunch of old telephone 'twisted pair' wires. But my yard was pretty ugly with all those wires everywhere, and occasionally, a kid would trip on a wire and fall. Radio or audio communications is clearly better!

This was first invented around 2004. This presentation was first placed on the Internet in April 2011. I do NOT give any manufacturer any authorization to use this invention unless I have given written authorization, as related to a contractual arrangement.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago