Exertion Interfaces

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Breakout for Two

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Why not combine the advantages of telecommunication technology in bridging distance, and those of sports in facilitating social introductions and fun?

Exertion Interfaces are a new kind of interfaces that facilitate what can be described as "Sports over a Distance." These interfaces make you tired and sweaty, but also support you in bringing you closer to old friends and help you making new ones. So instead of creating technology that helps you being more productive and work more efficient, this design supports you in making more friends and fights boredom. Welcome to a new future of technology that is fun!


Asserting that sports and games have these socializing effects, a game environment can be a valuable augmentation of what current telecollaboration tools try to accomplish in terms of social interaction. If physical exertion can put the user in a heightened state of arousal that supports bonding, it makes sense to leverage the same kind of arousal in a distributed setting. For example, if strangers meet over a networked environment for the first time, a game can break the ice, as it provides rules to follow, an activity or experience to share, and something to talk about.

In order to test our hypothesis, we used these findings to develop a system which allows two players in remote locations to play sports together. As an example of an Exertion Interface, it requires physical effort to play and encourages mastering specific skills. Furthermore, the design aims to make it fun to play and also to support interactions between the players.


Sports over a Distance


The Breakout for Two video can also be downloaded (320x240, 25fps, 300kbps, CBR). A DVD quality version is also available (768x576, 25fps, 1Mbps, VBR).

(300 kbps)
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First prototype

The first prototype of Breakout for Two is also documented in a video:
breakout_first_prototype.mov (Quicktime, 7 MB)

Old Webpage

The old webpage of the Breakout for Two is at:




Mueller, F. & Agamanolis, S. (2009) Interaction Design in Sports. In Design for Sport book. To appear 2009.

Mueller, F. & Berthouze, N. (2009) Evaluating Exertion Games - Experiences from Investigating Movement-Based Games. In Bernhaupt, R. (Ed.) Evaluating User Experiences in Games. To appear 2009.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., (2008) Long-distance sports, in Computers in Sports book, Dabnichki, P., Baca, A. (eds.), WIT Press, UK.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., & Gibbs, M. R. (2008). The Design of Networked Exertion Games. Journal of Virtual Reality and Broadcasting, 5, 13.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Agamanolis, S. Exertion Interfaces. Workshop Organizers. CHI ’08.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Agamanolis, S. Exertion Interfaces. Workshop Organizers. CHI ’07.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., (2007) Connecting Cities via Distributed Physical Activity, in Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: the Next Level book, Borries, F., Walz, S., Böttger, M. (eds.), Birkhäuser.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., (2007) Games over a Distance: Playing Together Although Apart Using Exertion Interfaces in Concepts and Technologies for Pervasive Games - A Reader for Pervasive Gaming Research, Magerkurth, C., Röcker, C. (eds.), Shaker, Germany.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Stevens, G., Thorogood, A., O’Brien, S., Wulf, V. (2007) Sports over a Distance. Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Special Issue on Movement Based Interaction. Springer Publisher.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Vetere, F., Gibbs, M. (2007) Design Experiences with Networked Exertion Games. PerGames ’07-Pervasive Gaming Applications (acceptance rate 50%)

Mueller, F., (2006) Auf Die Harte Tour, i-com Journal, Special Issue on Playful Computing. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, Vol. 5, Issue 3, pp. 19–24.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Agamanolis, S. (2005) Sports over a Distance. ACM Journal: Computers in Entertainment, Vol. 3, 3, July 2005

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F.,  (2005) Exertion Interfaces: Sports over a Distance for Social Bonding and Fun. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Media Arts and Sciences Thesis


Exertion Interfaces evolved out of a thesis in Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Media Lab, and was carried out at Media Lab Europe, MIT Media Lab's European Research Partner.

Exertion Interfaces led to a thesis in Media, Arts, and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, USA. It got rewarded an A+. Thesis supervisors were Rosalind W. Picard, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, MIT Media Lab, and Stefan Agamanolis, Principal Research Scientist, Media Lab Europe. Thesis reader was Ted Selker, Associate Professor MIT Media Lab.

The thesis (158 pages) is available in three different resolutions:

Acrobat pdf thesis_florian_mueller_screen.pdf (PDF, 7 MB, for onscreen viewing)
Acrobat pdf thesis_florian_mueller_ebook.pdf (PDF, 9 MB, e-book format for PDAs)
Acrobat pdf thesis_florian_mueller_print.pdf (PDF, 21 MB, for printing)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 00:02  


Mobile Health

Florian 'Floyd' Mueller at the Mobile Health conference 4-5 May 2011 at Stanford University, USA.