Zamzee: An Online Rewards Program Based on Physical Activity

Childhood obesity is an epidemic that is raging across America and shows little sign of slowing down.  One major cause of this tragic sickness is the incredible growth of gaming in all of its many forms. 

But, what if there was a game that actually encouraged teenagers to get up and be active in any way that they find enjoyable?  That is exactly what Zamzee is shooting for.  They have developed an online rewards community that is totally based on its players being active.

Participants wear a small meter that is about the same size as a thumb drive for your computer.  The meter then tracks your activity throughout the day.  It could be as intentional as playing sports or going for a run, or as simple as dancing around in your bedroom, but any activity is good activity for you to progress in this community.

As your activity level increases you boost your status in the community and you can even convert your activity into currency which can then be spent in their online store.  Judging by the pictures on their site it looks like you can redeem your activity cash for items such as gift cards from major retailers. 

Based upon the popularity of games on sites such as Facebook where you earn nothing more than a shiny ribbon on your screen it seems incredibly likely that teenagers would be interested in earning actual prizes they could use.  The power of social networking is also likely to play into the success of this web-based application.

People love showing off anything and everything on Facebook and Twitter and this is likely to be just as prevalent when it comes to showing off how much activity you have participated in, and maybe more importantly for Zamzee’s success, how many prizes you have earned.

So how much will this game really help improve health?  During the tests that they performed, accounting for over 10,000 days wearing the Zamzee, they found that teenagers were 30% more active.  That is about the same as running an extra marathon every month, and that is quite an improvement.

The Zamzee is set to go out to the public sometime this year, and it will be interesting to see how well it catches on, but one thing is for sure: if it helps any kid or teenager get healthier then it is at least a few steps in the right direction.