iBuffy – Interactive Kickboxing

Introduction:

Kickboxing is a sport of both kicking and punching.  Derived from the Martial Art of Muay Thai, kickboxing a full contact sport that can also be practiced for self-defense and general fitness.  The benefits of a high impact kickboxing workout include fat loss; increased muscle tone, energy, stamina, flexibility and endurance; stress relief, and self esteem boost.  Muscle and Fitness Magazine as the #1 fat burner, inducing an incredible calorie burn with estimates ranging between 350 and 800 Calories/hour.
Kickboxing classes can be held with no equipment, or with heavy bags, wrist wraps, and punching gloves.  During a class, an instructor calls out routines and combinations of basic the kicks and punches that students can practice at their own pace in the time allowed.  The instructor oversees students, adjusting paces to ensure that appropriate form is being kept.
While kickboxing classes are extremely popular and border line addictive, punching bags in the home often sit unused, collecting dust until they are sold on craigslist to collect dust in someone else’s basement.  I hypothesize that the practicing in the home lacks the interactive nature of a kickboxing class, lacking an instructor to set pace and call out routines and combinations.

Introducing:  iBuffy –  Interactive Kickboxing

iBuffy is an interactive kickboxing heavy bag.  iBuffy serves the two missing components of a home kickboxing workout.  Firstly, it can be programmed with combinations and routines for a great workout.  iBuffy indicates where to hit next, similar to a Rock Band or Dance Dance Revolution song.  Secondly, it senses the force with the targets are hit, and adjusts the pace accordingly, to ensure that proper form is being kept, guarantee the most effective workout.

Combinations and Routines:

Combinations and routines can be built from the following component parts:

Punches:

  • Jab
  • Cross
  • Hook
  • Uppercut

Kicks:

  • Front Kick
  • Side Kick
  • Roundhouse Kick
  • Crescent Kick

Sample 10 minute routine:

0:00–2:00    Jab, cross, hook, uppercut lead with left (30 seconds each)
2:00–4:00    Jab, cross, hook, uppercut lead with right (30 seconds each)
4:00–5:00    Front kick (30 seconds each, left and right)
5:00–6:00    Roundhouse kick (30 seconds each, left and right)
6:00–7:00    Side kick (30 seconds each, left and right)
7:00–7:30    Combination (left foot forward): Jab (L), uppercut (R), front kick (L)
7:30–8:00    Combination (right foot forward): Jab (R), uppercut (L), front kick (R)
8:00–8:30    Combination (left foot forward): Jab (L), cross (R), roundhouse (L)
8:30–9:00    Combination (right foot forward): Jab (R), cross (L), roundhouse (R)
In the current implementation, kickboxers use a GUI to program one combination at a time which will repeat indefinitely.  Though there is is plenty of room for extension.

Interactivity

Cueing

The most difficult part of the interaction is the indication of the next blow.  Initial ideas included:
  1. Voice (“Jab, Cross, Hook, Hook”)
  2. Lighted Targets
  3. External display

After extensive prototyping with lighted targets, I concluded that it didn’t “feel” right.  Kickboxing instructors use voice command to relay the combination, so hitting lighted targets felt more like a game of whac-a-mole than a kickboxing workout.  However, user testing revealed that novices need more of a visual cue.  The current implementation labels each target to help kickboxers match the cue with the appropriate hit, but more needs to be done in this area.  Perhaps combining audio cues with lighted targets is the best approach.

Pacing

Pacing is central to the concept of the iBuffy.  A good kickboxing instructor paces students based on their mastery of form.  iBuffy ultimately determines the “proper form”  by the strength of the hit.  Each target is equipped with a force sensor, and a “square hit” indicating good form, will be judged by incurring a force reading above a certain threshold.  When kickboxers register a “square hit” on each blow of the combination, iBuffy speeds up.  If they miss more than half, iBuffy slows down.  In addition to controlling the pace of the combination, iBuffy plays a sound to indicate square hits.  Future implementations should provide better indication of the strength of the hit.  This could include some combination of:
  1. Sound Effect – Volume indicating force reading
  2. LED Rainbow : red-yellow-green – more LEDs lit for higher force.  probably requires some funky shift resistor programming.  ugh
NOTE:  I did consider an alternative of putting sensors in the gloves and fashinoning some sort of shoe.  However, I did not want to have wires coming from the body impeding the workout.  Also, proper target placement is important for form.

Fabrication:

Materials

  • Kickboxing Heavy Bag
  • Boxing Gloves, wrist wraps
  • 9 Force Sensors
  • 9 Resistors
  • Arduino Mega
  • Lots of Duct tape, electrical tape, and wire

Target Construction:


The exact construction of the targets is an opportunity for creativity.  The current implementation is relatively minimalistic.  I created duct tape casings and slid the sensors inside.  I also experimented it lighted targets.  Until final construction, I used puffy targets (sponges worked well), but the sponge triggered the sensor once I affixed them to the bag, so i had to abandon them at the penultimate moment.

Wiring:

The wiring for the iBuffy is very simple.  The most important thing durability.  I used crimp connectors to connect wires to the force sensors, and a heavy gage to connect the sensors to the breadboard.  I uses lots of duct tape to affix the wires to the bag in order to prevent undo stress on any connection.  Each sensor has its own circuit.  The 9 sensors are distributed on the bag as follows:

  1. Right Jab/ Right Cross
  2. Left Jab/Left Cross
  3. Left Hook/ Right Backfist
  4. Right Hook/Left Backfist
  5. Right Uppercut
  6. Left Uppercut
  7. Left Roundhouse
  8. Right Roundhouse
  9. Left Frontkick/Rigth Frontkick/Left Sidekick/Right Sidekick

Each one should be wired into an analog pin on the Arduino Mega.  The exact pins can be edited in the processing sketch.

Plug and Play

To finish iBuffy, upload “Analog Firmata” to your Arduino Mega.  (The mega requires a special version of Firmata, found here.) To play with ibuffy, you need to program a combination using the GUI in processing. Press Go and Let ‘er rip!

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~ by katylinn on May 12, 2010.

One Response to “iBuffy – Interactive Kickboxing”

  1. […] For my final project for Making Things Interactive I made an Arduino/Processing based prototype of my ibuffy concept. In the current implementation, kickboxers use a simple Processing GUI to program the combination. ibuffy is an interactive kickboxing heavy bag. It was it intended to serve the two missing components of a home kickboxing workout. Firstly, it can be programmed with combinations and routines for a great workout. ibuffy indicates where to hit next, similar to a Rock Band or Dance Dance Revolution song. Secondly, it senses the force with the targets are hit, and adjusts the pace accordingly, to ensure that proper form is being kept, guarantee the most effective workout. Watch the Video More on Process & Implementation […]

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