Intro: PlankPoint™: the Planking Board That's a Game Controller, Joystick, or Mouse
We've been developing a new fitness project in stealth mode for a while, through Rotman School of Management CDL, but now we're ready to unveil it.
The idea is a planking board that is also a game controller.
This idea came to me some years ago, that normally-static exercises like planking or L-seats should be done in a more dynamic fashion as part of a game.
I made a pointing device out of the front-part of a surfboard attached to a game joystick, so that instead of planking in a fixed position, I used the planking board to navigate through a course, such as a road or maze.
A few years ago we also put together some specific games optimized for planking.
We're bringing this patent-pending technology to market, but meanwhile are happy to license it freely to anyone wishing to use it for personal or educational (i.e. Instructable) use.
Step 1: Make the PlankPoint Board
The simplest embodiment is a board that swivels left-and-right as well as fore-and-aft, with a smartphone placed on the board.
Let us begin by making the board.
First choose the board shape.
In the early embodiments of this invention (2011) I made a cursor-shaped board, suggestive of a pointing device, and mounted it to a sawn-off Logitech Extreme 3D Pro, using 3 of its degrees-of-freedom (left-right, fore-aft, and "twist rudder").
Something that's shaped like the nose end of a surfboard worked quite well.
Above is a shape that I made using Haptic Augmented Reality Computer-Aided Design, i.e. Fourier synthesis, in this case just two sinewaves of equal frequency and phase, but different gains and offsets. These were made using SWIM as a CAD tool, as in a previous instructable.
The shape cutout on the Shopbot is like a pointer, and you have a front-end of it that faces in a particular direction so that you know which end is the "bow" and which end is the "stern".
That thing on the bottom of the board is something we 3D printed. Its a ball, and we 3D print a socket for the ground, so there's a ball-and-socket joint (or it can also ride directly on the ground with no socket). If you don't have a 3D printer, just use a half ball, or a nicely rounded pipe end cap. Electrical PVC pipe end caps work best. Those are the PVC pipe end caps that come in grey (not the black or white ones which don't have such nicely rounded ends as the grey ones). A good size end cap is something in the 2.5 inch to 6 inch range. The larger ones are easier and the smaller ones up the ante and make it a bit more challenging.
Experiment with different shapes for the pivot and for the board.
After experimenting with various board shapes I ended up going for a circle, because you can grab it any way you like, and it becomes like a steering wheel that you can grasp and orient in any direction, thus adding also a 4th degree-of-freedom (i.e. if you like, you can sense where it is being pressed, and use that as an additional control input).
A good size is in the 20 to 30 inch diameter range.
Home Depot sells 24-inch diameter boards that are already round, so if you don't have a Shopbot or CAD tools to run it, you can just buy a round board and attach a pipe fitting to the center of it on one side, and that's the side that faces the floor and you plank on the other side of it.
Step 2: Equip It With a Sensor
(Nahum Gershon, נחום גרשון, the father of Human-Information Interaction, has been a PlankPoint user for many years during our testing phase!).
In the original, I used an actual pointing device (joystick), and then began making my own sensors to build into the device.
Later I found that a smartphone also made a good tilt sensor, and since about 2013/2014, we migrated to using smartphone-based sensing for the PlankPoint project.
The easiest approach is to just use an existing tilt-based game like a driving game or a maze game or the like, and put the phone on the board.
You can also write your own apps, to emphasize various forms of fitness development.
Step 3: Take It Further: Pullups, Ring Dips, L-seats, and Ankle Exercises.
PlankPoint is part of the CorePoint™ family of fitness devices.
Another example is the CorePoint bar, which is a pullup bar that's also a steering mechanism, so while doing pullups you need to steer.
Attaching rings to either end of the bar ups the ante and you drive through a virtual course (road, maze, airspace, etc.) while exercising on the rings.
The video output from the smartphone is sent to a big TV screen, or to Metaglasses, so that you can see it easier while navigating the course.
Another embodiment of this invention is the ankle exerciser. Now that ski season is upon us, we all want to strengthen our ankles to avoid ankle injuries on the slopes.
Have fun and stay fit.