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It's funny.  Laugh. Technology

New Shoe Designed to Kick-Start Couch Potatoes 236

Terremoto writes "A student at west London's Brunel University has developed a shoe with a pedometer that controls the amount of time a TV will remain lit. If sufficient activity has not been achieved the TV remains uncooperative. The device is appropriately named, "Square-Eyes"."
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New Shoe Designed to Kick-Start Couch Potatoes

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  • Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nebaz ( 453974 ) * on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:10PM (#12573082)
    First reaction, cute, but what a stupid idea. I won't even go into how this is a technological innovation to enforce parenting, but if you really
    wanted to make sure someone was active instead of watching too much tv, why not hook an exercise bike up to a generator. You can watch tv as long
    as you pedal. This would sour kids on TV pretty quick, or get some exercise out of them. Either way, not a bad idea.
    • why not hook an exercise bike up to a generator?

      Or your computer! It could power the video card or something, so you have to exercise to get a decent fps.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Children learn from feedback. It's not about punishment, because of course any punished kid can find a way around it. It's about communicating expectations.

      Surprisingly, children desperately want to do what their parents think is right. They have a rebellious stage, but on the whole they want approval.

      In communities where the children are taught very clearly what the expectations are and the expectations are consistent, children tend to follow them, in the end. This is why religions survive. You rebel for
    • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by peculiarmethod ( 301094 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:37PM (#12573306) Journal
      his would sour kids on TV pretty quick, or get some exercise out of them. Either way, not a bad idea.

      Ummmm, no. You will force your kids to then go to their FRIENDS house, where their parents don't force anyone to ride a damn bike to watch the weather channel or MTV. Getting your kids to go away won't make them better people. Education and quality time (excersizing WITH THEM) is the key.. not Pavlovian training.
      • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Koiu Lpoi ( 632570 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {iopluiok}> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @09:30PM (#12573637)
        Thank you. I'm sure you will be/are a good father/mother.
        • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dotgain ( 630123 ) on Thursday May 19, 2005 @01:57AM (#12575038) Homepage Journal
          Ditto. I am a parent of two, and hope there's plenty more people like 'peculiarmethod' still around.

          What is it with high-tech solutions to low-tech problems? I remember being asked (as a sysadmin at my last job) what a guy could do to stop his kid being exposed to naughty stuff on the net. My answer, "Be a parent to your son, not a sysadmin"

          • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

            What is it with high-tech solutions to low-tech problems?

            This borders on hypocrisy. Every parent is guilty one way or another of taking the easy way out with their children, or setting a poor example. How many times has any given parent really been a good example when they add up their monthly bills on a calculator while their kids are struggling in math and are told by the parent they need to learn to do the problems on paper. Heck, I even switched to an analog wristwatch while they were learning to tell
            • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Interesting)

              by MicroBerto ( 91055 )
              The after school baby sitter (ANY baby sitter) cannot be fully trusted to follow a strict set of television watching rules.

              Ummm... why not? If you're paying a baby sitter, make them enforce the damned rules or get another one.

              Or sign them up for an after-school sport/chess club/activity/whatever. No TV there.

      • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by End11 ( 740392 )
        So, what your saying is, we need some sort of surgically implanted electrode in their head that will SHOCK them if they watch tv, no matter where they try to watch it? I like your thinking!
      • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Funny)

        by Feztaa ( 633745 ) on Thursday May 19, 2005 @03:48AM (#12575410) Homepage
        You will force your kids to then go to their FRIENDS house, where their parents don't force anyone to ride a damn bike to watch the weather channel or MTV.

        Clearly, we must pass a law to for ALL televisions to be retrofitted with the bicycle generator as their sole source of power! Think of the children!
    • Kid claims TV watching is a right!
    • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by AnotherFreakboy ( 730662 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:44PM (#12573354)
      And then there is the potential for encouraging even further laziness.

      "I can't reach the remote, but if I sit here long enough the TV will turn itself off."
    • By your logic... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by catbutt ( 469582 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:59PM (#12573447)
      giving kids an allowance is using a device to enforce parenting. You should just give them a credit card with a high limit, and teach them not to spend too much.

      Get over yourself.
    • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Funny)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 )
      I've always liked the idea of rowing-machine handles in place of the space bar or enter key.... just posting on slashdot I'd look like Mr. Universe. Or, I'd stop posting on slasdot and feel better anyway.
      • Re:Uh... (Score:3, Funny)

        by Blkdeath ( 530393 )
        I've always liked the idea of rowing-machine handles in place of the space bar or enter key.... just posting on slashdot I'd look like Mr. Universe.

        I'vegotoneofthosekeyboards,itworksreallywelltoen forceexcersize.I'vebeenusingitforsixmonthsnowbutIh aven't lostanyweight.

    • Re:Uh... (Score:2, Informative)

      by miskate ( 730309 )
      Actually, someone already did a study featuring exactly that a few years ago. I can't remember the details of the study, but what actually happened was that the kids stopped watching tv almost entirely and went outside to play instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:11PM (#12573088)
    And buy a pair... right after this show is over.
  • What happens if someone invets feet that can put these shoes on and then these feet can get on a treadmill. The couch potatoes don't need shoes they need drugs that will want them to go out there and run.
    • that doesn't require Frankensteinian cleverness.

      Play "air drums" with the shoes.

      Or tie a bungie cord to the treadmill your lazy self should be on, hook the shoes to either end, and give them a jolt now and then. Every commercial or so ought to be enough.
      • Play "air drums" with the shoes.

        I don't know about you, but the way I become the mime-drummer is much more energetic than any 10,000 step walk could ever be. But I did ask myself what if the kid had a nervous tick where he bounced his knee under his desk all day? Would that cock up the computations? I'd imagine so...
  • Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:13PM (#12573113)
    If they could somehow program it for those of us who , (guilty) surf the web for hours on end, sitting in front of the computer... Until then, I will continue to wander the net...
    • but do you want your computer to just shut off while you are in the middle of recompiling [insert program of choice]?
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Karl Tacheron ( 841799 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:15PM (#12573122)
    A use for the "feet" category!
  • by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:15PM (#12573124)
    until people remember the "tumble no heat" setting on their dryer while they're looking for the receipt to return the damn thing.
  • Nice idea... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegoogler ( 792786 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:15PM (#12573127)
    but truly lazy people will always find a way to be lazy. they'll just pick up the shoes and shake them, or somesuch. to make it think they walked. as with previous idea's like this, its worthless if its even semi-easily trickable
    • No, more like they'll just turn the bloody things off. The trouble with these products is that they discourage someone from fufilling an addiction. If craving for addiction > willpower to use device, they'll just not use the device. And when you think about it, if they had the willpower to use the device, why not just get rid of the device and use that willpower to control the addiction?

    • they'll just pick up the shoes and shake them


      You mean it also works for arm exercises? I need to get those shoes! That way, my left arm will also get some exercises as I surf the web.

  • Side Effect (Score:5, Funny)

    by MooseByte ( 751829 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:16PM (#12573135)
    "developed a shoe with a pedometer that controls the amount of time a TV will remain lit."

    Immediately creating a kids' grey market of slipping allowances to other kids to wear these shoes on behalf of the targeted couch potato.

    $5 per hour's worth of TV time, $15 during Sweeps Week.

  • Yeah, right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EnsilZah ( 575600 ) <EnsilZah@@@Gmail...com> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:17PM (#12573145)
    Day one: Wow, look at this new thing i got, it'll motivate me to run. *run run run* *watch TV*
    Day two:*run run* *watch TV*
    Day three: Damn, my favorite show is on but i haven't run enough, i'll disconnect the running thing just this once...
    THE END.
  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:17PM (#12573147) Journal
    Its hard enough to play slow stages on DDR. If you make the television shut off if he's not dancing fast enough, that's just cruel.
  • Completely Untrue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by heptapod ( 243146 ) <heptapod@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:19PM (#12573160) Journal
    From the article:
    "Today's children are exposed to a raft of television programmes and children's channels. Ten years ago, children were entertained by playing games with their friends, now they are cooped up in their bedrooms watching hours of television programmes," she said.

    Ten years ago, 1995, kids were pursuing a sedentary lifestyle of watching TV and playing videogames with their friends.
    • This brings up a good point actually. A lot of people are used to saying "10 years ago....", but they're really refering to the 80's, or even sometimes earlier. 20 years ago? yeah, children were probably playing more board games or playing with their friends than watching tv or videogames, but 10 years ago? Like the original poster said, yeah right, that was 1995!

      These "experts" need to wake up and realise that we're not living in the 90's anymore.
    • by Doomstalk ( 629173 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:24PM (#12573200)
      playing videogames with their friends.

      You had friends?! Er, uh. I mean, yeah! I played video games with my friends all the time!
  • by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:21PM (#12573177) Homepage Journal

    The idea behind this seems quite good, rewarding exercise with television, but 2 hours for 15,000 steps (both daily recommended amounts, according to the article..) seems a little low. Most kids, even if they take to such a device, are going to be watching more than 2 hours TV a day.

    As for the article's claim that this will be an 'eye-opener' for those with a sedimentary lifestyle, I think it would be more likely to join the realms of exercise equipment old and new that sits unused while its owners procrastinate about getting more exercise.

  • Is it cheating... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stephenisu ( 580105 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:21PM (#12573178)
    Is it cheating to play DDR? (Dance Dance Revolution)
  • by d474 ( 695126 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:22PM (#12573182)
    Just last month I invented a TV that won't release the electronic lock on my shoe closet door until I've watched 6 hours of TV.

    Daddy likey.
  • I'd have bribed my brother and/or sister to run around in them for me just like I bribed them to sneak into the kitchen and take five or ten minutes off the timer when I was practicing the piano. Of course, if I hadn't been practicing the piano, I would have been running around outside anyway. My parents were very strict about how much T.V. we could watch. Too bad that doesn't happen much anymore...
  • by Rob Carr ( 780861 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:31PM (#12573266) Homepage Journal
    Type II diabetes is at epidemic levels [reuters.com] in the United States, and those diabetics are doing a very poor job of treating their illness.

    The DPP study showed [nih.gov] that exercise and diet were two critical ways to prevent diabetes. As it is, Type II diabetes is being seen in children, when a generation ago it was a disease of older people.

    Diabetes can be controlled, but it is still a life-threatening illness. I made the mistake of thinking that I was "too old to run." I became a diabetic as a result of that stupidity.

    This shoe may be a form of "pinhead responsibility," but pinhead responsibility is better than no responsibility whatsoever. If it enables parents to control TV and exercise in their children, then it will be useful.

    Is it a weak solution to the problem? Certainly. Can it be hacked by the child? More than likely. But at least it's a start. It sure beats kidney failure, heart disease, blindness, stroke, impotence, and death. It certainly beats the cost of all those little kids spending their lives as diabetics.

    Heck, it beats having to pass up deserts. Unless you are a diabetic, you have no idea how this disease sucks.

    Does it run Linux? I'm sure someone will find a way, and it might even improve the system!

    • "If it enables parents to control TV and exercise in their children, then it will be useful."

      A parent can turn off the TV. (A parent can even get rid of the TV.) A parent can make sure that their children eat well. A parent can make sure that their children get an adequate amount of exercise.

      If these things aren't already happening, a stupid pair of shoes won't help. People need to take responsibility for themselves, not abrogate it to a microcontroller.
      • Look, you and I are intelligent.

        I was a paramedic for far too many years. You have no idea the average level of human stupidity, nor just how bad the average level of parenting is.

        Would we need this? Probably not. Are there folks out there for whom this would be useful?

        Far too many.

      • One more /.er who strikes me as being maybe 20 years old, telling me about parenthood.

        A parent can turn off the TV. (A parent can even get rid of the TV.) A parent can make sure that their children eat well. A parent can make sure that their children get an adequate amount of exercise.

        And a parent can choose to use certain tools to get to the right balance point for all of that, all without finding it necessary to stake out an absolute position on the relative morality (or even efficacy) of the techno

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just watch those kids scramble out of the house when I give them a good boot to the backside...
  • by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyako.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:33PM (#12573281) Homepage Journal
    This is a neat idea and all, but I think they really have it backwords. Given the quality of most tv, how 'bout making it so that the TV won't turn off unless you have gotten enough proper excercise? Not only will this motivate people to exercise, but if they forget, then when the TV pops on, it's even more motivation to get some excercise by walking out of the room.
    • "This is a neat idea and all, but I think they really have it backwords. Given the quality of most tv, how 'bout making it so that the TV won't turn off unless you have gotten enough proper excercise? Not only will this motivate people to exercise, but if they forget, then when the TV pops on, it's even more motivation to get some excercise by walking out of the room."

      Normally I wouldn't find this joke funny, but my girlfriend's in the other room watching 'Stacked'.
  • We could reduce the mumber of geeks that resemble Jabba the Hut.
  • by da3dAlus ( 20553 ) <dustin.grau@NoSPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:35PM (#12573292) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone else the running pad accessory for the NES? Came with a game that had you running in place and competing with your friends? I distinctly remember that it was more fun (and easier) to just kneel down on the floor and smack the sensors with your hands, rather than try to jog in place. I just see kids getting around this by shaking the shoe or otherwise triggering the pedometer to falsely increase their "mileage". Stated previously: cute, but stupid.
  • Anybody's who ever played with a pedometer knows how easy it is to shake it to fake footsteps. True couch potatos -- especially fat kids whose parents force this on them -- would just cheat using by shaking their shoes to keep watching TV without having to move the ass. Bigger arms tho...
    • Re:Shoes on hands (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rob Carr ( 780861 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:44PM (#12573350) Homepage Journal
      The energy expended by the human body while watching TV is actually less than the energy expended sitting, doing nothing. If this device forces the kids to sit there and shake their foot, it's an improvement.

      I do wonder what this decreased energy expenditure while watching TV says about the ability to think while watching TV....

      No, wait. I don't wonder at all!

  • So what they'll do is disconnect the device from the television. Or duct tape the shoes to something that vacillates.

    This kind of invention isn't really going to accomplish anything. If you're obese, stop eating at McDonald's and all those places. Instead, try making your own food. Get your family, friends, and neighbors involved. Go for a walk sometime. Maybe just get rid of your television and find other activities to do. There are a zillion things to be done in the world. (A zillion is a lot of things.)

    • "So what they'll do is disconnect the device from the television. Or duct tape the shoes to something that vacillates."

      Or not buy them...

      Typical geeks. Always trying to find a snazzy solution to the problem. Am I the only one that's ever tried to talk the boss into letting me 'stress test' new computers by installing Quake on them?
  • by derEikopf ( 624124 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:37PM (#12573307)
    If someone has the willpower to wear these shoes and let them control the TV...then he has the willpower to go running anyway.
  • Wait, I saw this on TV... I should get out more.
  • another way for older brothers to torture their younger brothers! "Run up and down the stairs until I tell you to stop or I'll beat the crap out of you"
  • I guess there are parts of the world where people wear shoes in the house but in places where snow and mud make up most of the year, the first thing you do when coming into the house is take your shoes off.

    Could this technology be put into a pair of socks?
  • by Crash McBang ( 551190 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:52PM (#12573401)
    ... will have to be covered in foil!
  • by fullcircleflight ( 883189 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @09:02PM (#12573467)
    Clearly this will encourage illegal downloading of TV shows via BitTorrent; the MPAA won't like this.

    Although, I guess these shoes will sound like a good option to irresponsible parents that haven't being able to teach their kids about good dieting and fitness habits already.
  • Worst Product Ever (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unladen swallow ( 844965 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @09:11PM (#12573501)
    OK so the idea may be a good one (intent) there are too many flaws in the design (as others have pointed out). I have a better product idea... Have an adult around that sets rules on how much TV a child can watch and actually enforce the rules. Oh wait, I think the "adult" patent was approved 4000 years ago.
  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @09:11PM (#12573505) Homepage
    How about if I attach these shoes to the alarm clock that runs away and hides?
  • Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by charon_1 ( 562573 )
    They should invent something like this for Slashdot... You have to have social interaction with x amount of people before you can waste hours reading slashdot comments.
  • Simply take the batteries out of the shoes while watching TV. Presto, bango... no signal to the TV to shut off.
  • ... if running back and forth between the TV and the fridge to get a beer during commercials would count.
  • this would never work on people who are constantly shaking their leg or something...

    i'm a semi-hyper dude myself and once you get your leg going it's pretty easy to keep it that way for quite a long time without even realizing....i'd have it exploited in no time!

    oh yeah and if you were like me as a kid you'd know how to hook up tvs/vcrs, stereos, etc, by the time you were around 6 or 7. Unplugging the damn thing wouldn't be too hard to do....
  • How many of the commenters here work out regularly?
  • Place shoes on stair climber.

  • Either go on a tangent about how there's nothing worth watching on TV anyway and it's all demo-targeted, focus-grouped garbage (Please only cite the networks for anecdotal examples of garbage. Just ignore that 80% of Americans have cable or dish and there's loads of good options on there, and that over-the-air usually has decent public programming),

    or,

    launch into a diatribe about how this only enables sloppy, irresponsible parenting. No, don't let the fact that you are a childless teenager stop you, th

  • will start selling a shitload of those hampster wheels
  • ... self control?

    Seriously though, what I need is a stationary bike which fits under my desk. I'd love to exercise more, but don't have the chance.
  • On one of those 80s shows (That's Incredible or Real People) they ran a story about a family that made an exer-bike powered TV. The pedals generated the power to keep it running.
  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @11:28PM (#12574448) Homepage
    Should I sue them?
  • ... an insensitive clog ?
  • I read an interesting story in the book FATLAND ( explores how North America became so fat ).

    A gym teacher at a poor school was very frustrated by the poor health of his students. He also noticed them playing a lot of video games.

    He got the school to turn over the use of an equipment shed to him, which he emptied out. Then he solicited donations. He got a number of old exercise bikes and used television sets from yard sales. Some people who donated their time wired it all up such that if you pedaled a
  • Another alternative is to deemphasize t.v. for the whole family. Get a smaller, simpler model and put it in a spot where it is not the center of attention.

    Then make it a family thing to do active things for recreation, even if it is only taking a long walk after dinner or playing a game of catch.

    Everybody will get healthier and the family will be strengthened by doing recreational things together.

    Chances are a fat kid has parents who are also out of balance and doing things like this will help the whole
  • I can't help but be reminded of those ankle bracelets prisoners on parole have to wear.

    I think it is horrible to treat a child like this by putting such a device on them. What does it teach the kid?

    If a child is fat it is the fault of the parents.

    If parents don't want fat children they should practice good nutrition and do active recreational activities as a family...not treat their kids like criminals or animals.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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