TAIPEI, Taiwan —
The Taiwanese government spares no effort to promote new tech trends in sports to help people live a longer and healthier life.
Benefiting from the advancement of medical technology, the average life expectancy of modern people has been extended. However, living longer does not mean living healthier. An aging population has led to an increase in the number of chronically ill patients while changes in the diet of modern people have also led to an increase in the proportion of obese people. To help people live a healthier life, the government is committed to fostering the e-sports culture. For this reason, it encourages the sports industry to adopt information and communication technologies such as AI, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), and digital content to create innovative applications across multiple sports. Gamification lowers the barriers to entry as it helps get people motivated, especially those who have no exercise habits.
To allow more people around the world to get in touch with Taiwan’s e-sports technology, the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) has aligned with the central government policy to foster the e-sports industry ecosystem. Starting in 2020, it has collaborated with the Sports Administration of the Ministry of Education, and the National Taiwan Sport University to organize the so-called ITSport Game to help domestic IT industry players promote and commercialize their somatosensory interactive products.
The ITSport Game will normally select five e-sports technologies developed by Taiwanese companies through public votes and turn them into competition events. The government will then assist in the commercialization of these e-sports technologies in National Sports Centers across Taiwan and encourage public participation. For example, in the 2021 ITSport Game, digital archery, virtual rowing, smart balance boards, smart interactive floor mats, and VR shooting were selected as competition events. With the joint efforts of the industry, government, academia, and research sectors, a total of 814 people participated in these competition events and more than 30,000 people experienced them. The ITSport Game has succeeded in encouraging more people to embrace e-sports over the years.
The Smart City Taiwan Project supports e-sports innovation and helps the “SmartBoard” win the prestigious Concours Lépine International Paris
In addition to promoting the e-sports ecosystem, the IDB is also committed to supporting the research and development of domestic e-sports industry players. For example, the IDB has subsidized a Taiwan-based company SmartMotion, which invented the so-called SmartBoard to be selected as a sports event in the ITSport Game. The SmartBoard combines somatosensory interactive technology design with e-sports in mind for the user to use his/her lower limbs and abdominal core muscles when stepping on the board. It uses motion-sensing technology to analyze the user’s muscle endurance, control, and balance. With these parameters, it can design more interesting somatosensory games to make this sports event more fun to play.
There is a tablet installed in front of the SmartBoard that has built-in a variety of somatosensory games suitable for a broad swath of users. For instance, young users are more intrigued by exciting racing games, such as boat racing. The elderly users prefer milder, no time-limited games, such as mazes, and these games allow the elderly to exercise their brains to reduce the risk of dementia. It also provides an analysis of calorie consumption and body coordination after each gaming session and visible results charts to encourage people to establish long-term exercise habits. These unique features also helped the SmartBoard win the silver medal in the prestigious Concours Lépine International Paris 2019.
SmartMotion’s next step: launches a home version of SmartBoard and creates an all-around solution for international expansion
In response to the rise of home exercise trend amid the COVID-19 outbreak, SmartMotion is currently designing the “at home version” of the SmartBoard (the B2C version) in addition to its business-to-business (B2B) solution. With the B2C version, users can plan home fitness interactive courses to help them easily stretch their muscles at home. On top of that, the company also continues to expand the market presence for the SmartBoard by cooperating with Taiwan-based fitness and rehabilitation equipment manufacturers and medical equipment manufacturers. Together, they develop a new precision fitness and rehabilitation system and an all-around physiological detection system.
The precision fitness and rehabilitation system combines fitness or rehabilitation equipment with motion-sensing devices, IoT, and cloud-based platforms and applications. It will automatically analyze whether the user’s movements are correct, record the results of each training, and upload them to the cloud for fitness management. The platform will present weekly, quarterly, and annual statistical charts to help the public, fitness coaches, and rehabilitators achieve the effectiveness of personal training. The new physiological detection system will integrates parameters collected from various medical equipment such as spirometry, electrocardiograph, pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor, and thermometer. Other than providing people with parameters, it helps automatically upload physiological data to the cloud database, build personal health records, and help people prevent diseases early by developing a detection model for data analysis.
SmartMotion also plans to integrate these two systems with the SmartBoard to transform it into an all-around smart health and sports rehabilitation solution for gyms, sports centers, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care institutions. In the meantime, the company has been striving to collaborate with agents and distributors in Japan, Europe, and China with an aim to extend its global reach through partnerships and regional networks.
The Smart City Taiwan Project has long been co-working with Taiwan’s local governments to take the advantages of the country’s high-tech industries. Together, the project has assisted many companies in obtaining local field trial opportunities, jointly developing innovative applications, and solving local problems, especially in the six major areas related to people’s livelihood such as healthcare, governance/safety, tourism/retail, agriculture, education, and transportation.
While Taiwan keeps innovating, we would like to share our digital transformation experience with the world. “Taiwan Can Help!” is the slogan to demonstrate our ambition to help the world transform into smart cities. At present, about 320 Taiwanese companies have involved in the Smart City Taiwan Project, delivering more than 241 smart services in 22 counties and cities across Taiwan to more than 8.54 million Taiwanese people.