Category Archives: News & media

Promotion & events, opinion & analysis & hot off the press

Exponential Times in the Information Age

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EXPONENTIAL TIMES: Extra! Extra! Etc. Etc.

I TREATED myself with a NAG (New Age Gaming) magazine the other day, which came with a glossy-ink-scented E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) supplement. The accompanying DVD was also largely dedicated to E3 and consisted of around two hundred game videos, trailers and GameTrailers.com awards.

I do not work for NAG nor do I sell their magazines. I was merely mesmerized by how far gaming has come in the last few years. We are certainly living in exponential times with the bacterial-like spread of information and new technologies.

Gone are the days of chalkboards and letter posting in the developed world. The sale and consumption of hard-copy books is fast dwindling at the hand of the Kindle and other eReaders. If Wikipedia were to be published as a book it would be over two million pages long. There are now even babies in the world named “Facebook.”

Exponential Times in Gaming
3D graphics has reached a point beyond comprehension five years ago. The number of gaming devices and vibrating motion controllers on the market this year can have one gleefully immersed 24/7 if you have the time. The exponential rate at which new game titles are being released has made the task of writing letters to Santa quite a meticulous one.

Exponential Times in Social Media
In 2007, one out of every eight U.S. couples met online. It is now estimated to be one in five. When television first entered our lives it took 13 years to reach a target audience of 50 million. Facebook took just two years to get the same number of people on board its platform.

Greater than the exponential development of technology, is the exponential availability of information. It is estimated that a week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information that anyone living in the 18th century would have consumed in their entire lifetime. The amount of technical information available is more than double every two years.

Exponential Times in Education and Employment
This exponential growth of technology and information is changing the way children are educated. Students are now being prepared for jobs that don’t yet exist and being trained to use technologies that have not yet materialised. It has also been shown that students who are online tend to outperform those who receive more face-to-face education.

This is of course changing the way that people are employed globally. It is estimated that 95% of companies that are online today recruit people using LinkedIn; around the same percentage of businesses use social media for marketing purposes.

Exponential Times Year to Year
In 2008, more than 200 million cell phone calls were made every second. This has roughly tripled every 6 months since. In 2009, every minute or so, a day’s worth of video footage was uploaded to YouTube. In 2010, the number of Google searches completed every ten minutes could have powered Las Vegas for half an hour. This year there are roughly 80 million Farmville farmers versus the 1.5 million real farmers. The moment you’ve finished reading this, most of this information will be outdated.

Below are two of the videos where you can find this information as well as more and more and more…

Exponential Times in 2008

Exponential Times in 2011

Google: Behind the screen

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GOOGLE: A critical look at Google behind the screen

A wise man once said: “We should always be cautious of that which is powerful.” No doubt Google has become an extremely powerful entity in our modern lives. It can be argued that it is fast becoming the gatekeeper of all of the world’s information — the new Great Library of Alexandria. Yet to be cautious of this requires reason to be so, and what better place to start than to understand how Google works.

HOW GOOGLE WORKS

Internet databaseGoogle can basically be separated into three parts – search, database and interface. To take account of all the new information and web pages that appear on the web on a daily basis, Google sends out digital robots (also called bots, spiders or crawlers). These bits of software crawl the Internet and scan new content and web pages. They assess what words, and more specifically, what keywords, are used on each page and send these to a database.

The physical part of the Internet can basically be thought of as huge, underground databases. Envision underground computers with powerful processors and lots of storage space. All the information gathered by the Google bots is brought back to these databases where it is stored. Importantly, information is only gathered from the web pages which Google sends out bots for. This excludes web pages that are not indexed by Google, are hidden from Google or require a password or some kind of authority to access.

And then we have the interface. This is essentially the Google search bar, which we are all familiar with and often take completely for granted. When we type in keywords or search phrases into the Google search bar, the Google bots search the database and bring up web pages that contain a high number of those keywords.

HOW GOOGLE BEGAN AND GREW

Google billboard equationGoogle began with a small group of engineers in 1999, who became overnight billionaires after Google went public in 2004. The company now employs the keenest minds from around the world and is still growing. At one point Google devised a mathematical equation which was advertised on large billboards worldwide. Solving the equation and typing the result into the Google search bar took one to the Google jobs page.

It has to be said that Google employees with cushy jobs have it good. At the corporate Google Headquarters (Googleplex) in California, employees are allowed 20% of their working time to pursue whatever they are passionate about. There are also several stress-relieving facilities available such as gyms to volley ball courts. Employees may even get a professional massage during their lunch breaks.

The Google goldmine is in advertising. Generally the first three web pages that appear as a result of a search are sponsored links. These are usually highlighted in some way. The links that appear along the right-hand column are also sponsored links. Companies bid against one another for these spots, which has proven to be an effective and profitable system.

GOOGLE’S GOALS

Google’s initial aim was to create the world’s best search engine. Its stated goal now is to host all of the world’s information. Google Search has literally expanded into space, with offerings such as Google Books, Google Maps and Google Mars just to name a few. However, there is also the phenomenon of Internet users constantly pouring in new content. The goal on Google’s part here is to organise all this information.

GoogleplexThe Internet is now flooded with large amounts of opinion pieces as more and more people throw in their two cents. But how can a search engine be objective and rank opinion? At one point in time, a search for “the holocaust” fetched articles with titles such as “Did the Holocaust really happen?” A search for “the truth behind 9/11” fetched a host of conspiracy theories arguing that 9/11 was a governmental orchestrated undertaking.

With such an influx of good and bad information, it’s fair to say that Google employees have their work cut out for them. To keep things democratic, Google has started giving preference to web pages that update more frequently and are more interactive in terms of user participation and commentary. The relevance of any piece of information on the web is also largely determined by how many external web pages link or point to that information.

ISSUES OF PRIVACY

The fact that Google stores user information is not something it tries to cover up. It openly states that this information is used to help improve Google services. However, even if Google doesn’t misuse this information, there is very little preventing others from doing so. Information regarding user behaviour, such as your search habits and history for example, can and have been sold to third-party advertisers arming their spam cannons.

Whether we consider Google as a profit driven company acting under a façade or not, the question begged for, really, is whether Google (and ergo the Internet in general) will ultimately become a public enterprise or a public enterprise.

A further point of concern is the idea of Google having a monopoly over all of the world’s information. While anyone is free to create a search engine, your chances of competing with Google and being taken seriously are less than slim.

As difficult as it may be, laws of media diversity will have to find a firmer place online if we are to prevent a situation of having one world view or ideology at the expense of critical thought.

Why Google is called Google
The name “Google” originated from a misspelling of “googol”, which refers to 10100 (the number represented by a one followed by 100 zeros). Having found its way into everyday language, the verb “google” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, and means “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet.” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google

A tribute to Jean Pain and Solar Impulse

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ENERGY FROM COMPOST: The Jean Pain Method

I WAS thrilled to hear that the world’s first fully solar powered aircraft, Solar Impulse, successfully completed its first international flight last week. The Swiss solar powered aircraft flew for a full 13 hours from Payerne to Brussels without using a single drop of fuel. Granted that the aircraft is slow moving (with a top speed of around 50 km/h), Solar Impulse represents an astonishing feat of engineering and shows just how much can be achieved with renewable technology. Gizmag.com suggests that we may even look back on this period as a “Wright brothers moment” in the history of aviation.

According to Gizmag: “A rough calculation tells us that a Boeing 747 would have used around 7 570 litres of fuel to make the same trip. Of course it’s not much of a comparison when you consider that a commercial airliner can carry hundreds of people, but one can’t help but think that the seeds of a new era are being sewn. Solar Impulse is powered by 4×10 horsepower electric engines, the Wright brothers had 12 horsepower at their disposal when they flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903.”

We should not neglect these significant moments in history. It brings to mind the ecological work done by a Frenchman who died in 1981. My attention was drawn to this great innovator by a contact living in Russia who happened across a video made by some permaculture students living in New Zealand. Ah, the joys of Facebook!

Jean Pain (1930-1981) was a self-taught organic gardener, forester, and biotechnologist who developed a compost-based bio-energy system that produced 100% of his energy needs. It can be argued that he was a genius ahead of his time, as three decades later we continue to develop efficient bio-energy systems with new technologies that are as efficient. Pain’s work is certainly worth celebrating, so I wish to offer this as a tribute to the great man.

The Jean Pain Method

"This power plant supplies all a rural household’s energy needs. It is a mound of tiny brushwood pieces (three metres high and six across). This compost mound is made of tree limbs and pulverized underbrush. The 50 ton compost is in a steel tank with a capacity of four cubic metres. It is three-fourths full of the same compost, which has first been steeped in water for two months. The tank is hemetically sealed, but is connected by a tubing of 24 truck tyre inner tubes, banked near by a reservoir for the methane gas produced as the compost ferments" — www.daenvis.org

"This power plant supplies all a rural household’s energy needs. It is a mound of tiny brushwood pieces (three metres high and six across). This compost mound is made of tree limbs and pulverized underbrush. The 50 ton compost is in a steel tank with a capacity of four cubic metres. It is three-fourths full of the same compost, which has first been steeped in water for two months. The tank is hemetically sealed, but is connected by a tubing of 24 truck tyre inner tubes, banked near by a reservoir for the methane gas produced as the compost ferments" — http://www.daenvis.org

The method of creating usable energy from composting materials has come to be known as the Jean Pain Method. By distilling methane, Pain was able to run an electricity generator, fuel his truck and power all his electric appliances. Pain lived on a 241-hectare timber farm, so had free access to the raw materials needed to produce energy.

Pain essentially constructed a compost power plant (of his own design) using brushwood and pulverized underbrush, which supplied 100% of his and his wife’s household energy needs. Pain estimated that 10 kilos of brushwood would supply the gas equivalent of a litre of petrol.

Jean PainPain spent considerable attention developing prototypes of machines required to macerate small tree trunks and limbs; one of these, a tractor-driven model, was awarded fourth prize in the 1978 Grenoble Agricultural Fair, according to Wikipedia.

When compost decomposes or ferments it produces heat. By burying 200 metres of pipe within a large compost mound, Pain was able to heat four litres of water a minute to 60 degrees Celsius. A sizeable compost heap continues to ferment for 18 months, after which the installation is dismantled, the humus is used to mulch and fertilise soils, and a new compost system is erected.

Jean Pain’s methane generator took 90 days to produce 500 cubic metres of gas. However, this is enough to power two ovens and three burner stoves for a full year. Pain’s methane-fueled combustion also powered a generator which produced 100 watt-hours of electricity every hour. Pain was also able to store this current in an accumulative battery, which could be used to power lights.

The Jean Pain Method is an amazingly simple and incredibly inexpensive system of extracting both energy and fertiliser from plant life. Pain worked within the balance of nature to become truly self sufficient. May history honour his memory.

Sources:
www.daenvis.org
www.wikipedia.org
www.navitron.org.uk
www.motherearthnews.com

The Mind Sport Debate

MIND SPORT: Should competitive gaming be considered as an internationally recognised mind sport in South Africa?

THERE was a lot of talk and debate towards the end of last year about 2011 being “the year of eSports”. The central debate in a South African context was whether or not competitive gaming should be recognised and treated as an international mind sport in our country.

Electronic sport, or mind sport, falls into the category of non-physical competition. Competitive gaming is the fastest growing mind sport, and there currently exist several leagues and tournaments word-wide whereby gamers compete at amateur, semi-professional and professional levels.

With a steady increase in the number of competitive gamers across genders and cultures, the mind sport debate revolves around the idea of classifying network gaming as an official national sport and treating and covering it in the same manner as existing sports such as rugby and cricket.

It’s a misnomer that ‘real’ sport is physical and sweaty and demands an impressive display of physical prowess. With most sports being based on warlike principles, it’s often forgotten that quick wit and strategy play an integral part in most of the sports we love. And let’s face it – not everyone is cut out for the gym or has the impressive build of Os du Randt.

Consider chess, poker, pub quizzes, crossword contests and poetry slam as competitive mind sports. These all require quick wit, intellectual talent and creativity without the need to physically tackle opponents to the floor. And if you think that gaming is mindless finger-clicking, competitive gaming demands huge amounts of quick thinking, strategy, and above all, teamwork.

The World Cyber Games

World Cyber Games

The World Cyber Games, which began in 2000, initially consisted of 174 competitors from 17 different countries with a total cash prize of $20 000. In 2006, 700 competitors from 70 different countries fought for the cash prize of $462 000 (Wikipedia. Image: erodov.com).

The good news is that African countries are gradually getting on board and gearing up to compete internationally. Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) is currently driving inter-school gaming leagues and organised the first official gaming test match between South Africa and Namibia last month.

According to an interview with the president of MSSA, Colin Webster, published on ITWeb, “One of the key highlights this year is the fact that MSSA is in talks with local government to organise a national e-sports LAN event that will have the same stature as a national sporting event. Gamers from all over the world will be able to test their skills against South African gamers.”

Unfortunately, for South African gamers to compete on a global scale and participate in the major leagues held in Europe, Korea and the United States, politics need to come into play. In order to compete internationally, gaming (as well as any sport) need to meet a certain set of criteria. There are good reasons for these, but when we consider that hi-tech sports such as gaming are ever-evolving with technology, perhaps we need to consider having such criteria updated as well.

The central issue is that for any sport to qualify and be able to compete at an international level, it needs to be accessible to everyone. Every government school has a sports closet full of soccer balls and cricket bats and there are real efforts to offer the same to rural schools around the country.

However, now that we are undoubtedly living in the digital age, it is also becoming compulsory for all schools to have computers and internet access. That’s all it takes to set the stage for competitive gaming tournaments. Learners could even opt to participate in network gaming during their lunch breaks. I’d guarantee that you wouldn’t have to twist any arms to get learners interested.

Mind Sport Growth and Revenue

There is also the opportunity to make a decent living from competitive gaming. The World Cyber Games held in South Korea every year sees a huge flow of revenue from sponsorship and advertising – not to mention the marketing value that top, individual gamers gain by proving their skills. As existing tournaments have shown, large technology and PC corporations are more than willing to play their part and offer sponsorship and support.

To put the growth and interest of competitive gaming into perspective, the World Cyber Games, which began in 2000, initially consisted of 174 competitors from 17 different countries with a total cash prize of $20 000. In 2006, 700 competitors from 70 different countries fought for the cash prize of $462 000 (Wikipedia).

I sincerely hope that competitive gaming gets the attention and coverage it deserves within the realm of mind sport. As an ardent gamer, I believe that having games pushed and played to their limits by professionals will improve the quality of existing and future games as well as associated technologies.

Furthermore, it’s a chance for people to engage with the latest technology, a chance to bring together people with similar interests, to team-build, to profit off all the advertising possibilities, and to show the rest of the world that South Africa has what it takes to compete globally in the realm of quick wit and real time strategy.

Mind sport links:
2011: The Year of eSports
Africa gears up for e-sports

The Mauritius holiday experience

With times being so tough and people feeling increasingly crabby about life, you might like to know that affordable holidays do exist out there. Mauritius is one such destination that is the perfect place to get away from it all and is one superb and reasonably priced holiday experience.

TRAVEL: The Mauritius holiday experience

Air MauritiusMAURITIUS is a multicultural mix of people, places and melodies. The language is French, the cuisine Indian and Chinese, the massages Swedish and below the turquoise waters – something totally out of this world.

There is something very special about island life. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed and there is a sense that the surrounding waters protect one from the harshness of the rest of the world.

A brief history of Mauritius

Vasco De Gama checking out MauritiusMauritius has an interesting and unique history. Originally discovered by the Portuguese and visited by the Dutch in the 16th century, the island was eventually colonised by the French. They established Port Louis as an important rest-stop when travelling to the Indian spice lands.

The British soon realised the usefulness of having a colony at Mauritius, and after a few naval battles with the French, soon took the island for themselves. Labour came in the form of Indian and Chinese immigrants, which had a major influence on Mauritian culture.

Languages of Mauritius

EducationMauritian school boys and girls and educated in both English and French. However, one can also happen across a few Italian and Hindi speakers. Being addressed in an accent that can only be described as a thick mixture of an Indian and French accent, can be difficult to understand, but is entirely enchanting when spoken by the female persuasion.

The Le Palmiste Resort & Spa

BeachThe beaches of Mauritius are adorned with hotels and resorts with new construction underway 24/7 – even on Sundays. I was surprises to find the holiday destination largely under-developed. However, the locals appeared to feel apprehensive towards their natural beauty becoming more of a tourist island. According to a local taxi driver, tourism is booming – with three planes arriving from South Africa alone per day.

Le Palmiste Resort & SpaThe Le Palmiste Resort & Spa is a three star hotel that can be found on the north-western part of Mauritius. Having not experienced much hotel-life myself, I found the service, amenities and food to be far better than expected.

The hotel has three swimming pools, lounge chairs aplenty, table tennis, a volley ball area and hosted a bingo night and an evening of traditional song and dance known as Sega. The average age at the Le Palmiste was about 60, but you can spot the love-birds like an over-dressed penguin at a party.

Hotel roomI lazed in the biggest bed I’ve ever slept in – in an air-conditioned room with a balcony and a view. After being too fearful to touch the minibar on the first night, I was delighted to discover that everything in it was complimentary; and replenished every day! The room and on-suite bathroom were thoroughly cleaned once a day and there was a huge TV across from the bed if one wished to watch some French television. Perhaps the only thing lacking was a large bath.

Mauritian Food & Drink

St Aubin Mauritian RhumI wouldn’t say that Mauritius has any traditional cuisine. Their food is a mix and Indian and Chinese and seafood; so lots of spices, fried rice and noodles and seafood of every variety. They also like their chilies!

Food at the Le Palmiste is buffet style – so all you can eat at every meal. Breakfast was a real treat and came in the form of pancakes with chocolate sauce, croissants, hams, cheeses, fruit and filter coffee.

Mauritius has just about as much sugarcane as Kwa-Zulu natal, so the obvious bi-product is Mauritian rhum. There is vanilla rhum, coffee rhum, caramel rhum, orange or pineapple rhum and then of course the specialty – St Aubin Mauritian rhum. Every guest is offered a bottle upon arrival.
One glass resulted in a hangover.

Mauritius Ocean Life

SnorklingIf you are a diver, snorkeler, or just interested in marine life, you will be spoilt for choice in the waters of Mauritius. The ocean is wave-less due to a seemingly never-ending coral reef, and the water is crystal clear. Diving in just about anywhere will see you immediately immersed in a colourful underwater universe simply teaming with life!

There are options to go six feet under in a submarine, enjoy a glass-bottomed boat ride, be pulled behind a boat on tubes, parasail, windsurf, ski, just about anything a veteran beach-goer could wish for. A great experience is to take a catamaran trip to the smaller, northern islands for a full day. Food is served, the snorkling is fantastic and the complimentary cocktails go down really well.

One does need to be careful not to be taken for a financial ride however. I soon learnt to haggle prices down 50% or find another local who offered the same services for a better price. Everything for a tourist is negotiable.

The solo experience

solo travellerMauritius was my first time traveling overseas and I chose to go at it alone. There are pros and cons to the solo traveling experience, but I couldn’t have enjoyed my own company more. Being able to escape from your more real existence and do as you please, when you please, is just blissful. You certainly never feel alone with this holiday experience.

I did however meet an Afrikaans mother and daughter from Pretoria who had taken the same holiday package deal. They were more than welcoming and friendly and really made my whole experience that much more enjoyable.

Irene and Adri MalanIt is also quite difficult to take photos that include yourself or keep an eye on your stuff when you’re on your own. More importantly, it is really great to share these sorts of experiences with someone, and I am forever grateful for having met such accommodating travelers on my trip.

This holiday was booked through Pentravel and cost R10 480 on a half-board basis (breakfast and dinner daily). The price included a return air ticket ex Durban, transport to and from the airport and seven nights in the Le Palmiste hotel in a single occupancy superior room with comprehensive travel insurance. The Afrikaans mother and daughter I met booked the same package but with twin sharing accommodation ex Johannesburg through Computicket and paid R7 499 per person sharing.

If a relaxing holiday is what you’re looking for, Mauritius is certainly a great choice. Bon Voyage!

Fuseware Social Media Report

SOCIAL MEDIA: And how it is transforming business in South Africa

Fuseware is a Cape Town based social media research company that is currently creating a free social media research survey about the business case for social media in South Africa. They are asking the top influencers in the media and marketing industry for their views regarding this and aggregating all the information into a 100% free Fuseware report.

I was asked to participate in the Fuseware survey but wanted to open it to everyone to participate and offer further suggestions. The six most poignant questions follow with my own responses, but please feel free to contribute and get your chance to be heard! I will pass all comments on to the researcher that contacted me.

1. Fuseware: How is social media changing the business landscape, specifically for South Africa?

In the media industry, social media is the next phase of journalism. Media industries that do not adopt and embrace social media and networking into their production cycles will surely wither and die in the future. Situations where news rooms fight social media to get “the scoop” will never win by virtual of the speed and spread that is offered by services such as Twitter, Blogs and even Facebook. Media organisations need to learn how to use social media themselves in unique ways if they wish to remain a viable source of information.

2. Fuseware: What is the most difficult challenge of social media use in business in South Africa?

I would argue that the biggest challenge for businesses in SA is finding unique ways to make effective use of social media without harassing and bomb-barding social networkers with corporate spam. Simply posting links to any business website on every social media platform, for example, is not effective use of social media and will only irritate people and possibly taint the name of that business or brand.

3. Fuseware: What is your ultimate example of business success in social media?

News websites that have developed social media extensions for their product are proving to be very successful in SA. News24, The Dispatch and The Times are three examples of businesses that have made effective use of social media by offering something of interest and value that was not possible with their print products. Interactivity, commenting platforms, reader feedback, creating web-presence and the use of multimedia are all effective forms of optimising such a business.

4. Fuseware: Which companies in South Africa do you think are doing social media the right way?

The three news corps. mentioned: News24, The Times and The Dispatch. Also gaming and IT websites are showing huge growth in SA – e.g. Take2, and of course the blogging community and more specifically blog aggregators – i.e. Afrigator and MyScoop are making great and effective use of social media in SA. These will continue to grow for a good while yet.

5. Fuseware: How can businesses in SA measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns?

It depends on the campaign really. Following trends would be a good start, but most social media campaigns can be measured by number of followers / subscribers and the growth of these. Keeping track of website statistics and engaging with their audience(s) is also of utmost importance.

6. Fuseware: How do you envision the usage of social media in SA in 2-3 years?

The internet today is defined as “web 2.0” – i.e. the “social web”. The proliferation of social media websites and services will continue to grow in the next few years and more businesses are likely to adopt social networking into their business models. It’s almost becoming a case of “do-or-die” meaning that if businesses do not create a web-presence within the next 2-3 years while their competitors do, they will risk losing a huge number of customers / clients / readers.

  • If you would like any of your own input sent to the Fuseware team before they put together their social media report, please add it as a comment below.

Exergaming & The River Gym

When exercise, gaming and clean energy generation come together

GAMERS are subjected to a cruel stereo­type that we all live in our parents’ basement and are rendered lifeless if exposed to direct sunlight. While most games are not physically demanding, there is a growing market for exercise gaming — known more commonly as “exergaming”.

Just DanceThe Playstation and Wii are at the forefront of exercise gaming — having released several titles and peripherals that encourage gamers to get a good cardiovascular workout. Many also offer calorie counters, which let you know exactly what you’re burning while you play.

Exergaming relies on technology that tracks body movement or reaction. Exergames are seen as evolving from technology changes aimed at making video games more fun and healthy at the same time.

After the huge success of titles such as Just Dance and Wii Sports Resort, the growing market and appeal of exercise gaming has spawned a whole army of peripherals and new game genres – enough to start your own interactive gym.

Many Wii games feature some sort of motion sensor controls, which read and track your movements as you play. There are now even horror-action titles, such as Silent Hill Shattered Memories that require players to swim, fend off attackers and move objects with wild flailing movements.

Motion sensor technology combined with gaming has become a hot topic over the last few years and got hotter with the announcement that both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 would be joining the Nintendo Wii in offering “motion” gaming. The implementation of these features will enable both these popular platforms to offer titles in the new “gaming as exercise” trend.

The Wii Fit is certainly a winner which helped to pioneer the gaming as exercise trend. It has not only sold over 20 million copies to date, but has taken things further by offering extra exercise gaming peripherals.

In 2009 the Wii CyberBike was released — the first video game to be bundled with a full-sized exercise bike. The visual stimulation coupled with the Cyberbike may see you clearing roads of pollution and traversing by land, sea and air over 18 different circuits.

This may not be for everyone, but then again neither is the gym. If you plan on buying an exercise bike anyway and like the sound of the additional gaming incentive, then the Cyberbike may be a good, modern choice.

If simple exercise isn’t enough to get your heart pounding, there are emerging possibilities of having the energy you expend by exergaming captured and put to good use. It is already possible to power a Playstation and small home appliances with exercise, but this tends to be an archetypal “hamster in a wheel” approach.

The River Gym

The River Gym

"The River Gym is one of the more innovative concepts to break water in recent times and looks to cash in on our desire to exercise to stay fit and healthy by capturing the energy we expend when burning calories" (image: http://www.gizmag.com)

The River Gym, off the Hudson and East Rivers in New York, is a floating vessel of fitness that harnesses renewable energy from burnt-off calories. The plan is to have River Gym “pods” that would offer a range of exercise equipment capable of converting energy derived from human motion into usable electric energy stored in on-board batteries.

“The vessels would be fitted with water purification devices to combat pollution and would also be capable of carrying additional passengers and commuters, thereby easing the burden of ferry lines as well as varying the intensity of the exercise” — www.gizmag.com

The River Gym also promises “the obvious benefits of exercise and eco-credentials” along with spectacular panoramic views of New York – an experience that “far surpasses the bland tedium of a conventional gymnasium”.

Of course, it would only be fair that membership for a River Gym would be free considering that users would be creating vast amounts of usable energy by breaking a sweat. Perhaps some free, on-board entertainment sponsored by Nintendo is in order?