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SALT LAKE CITY — From video games, to computer time to time in front of the television, technology has been blamed for our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Now a small North Carolina company is changing that by turning technology into an impetus for active play in children.
Sqord is a combination computer game, social network and real world exercise. Coleman Greene is a co-founder.
"Our idea is not to say that technology is the problem, but rather embrace it, and say that it can be part of the solution," Greene said.
Kids wear a practically indestructible power band that contains a three-axis accelerometer. It tracks their physical activity throughout the day, capturing a range of motion, duration and intensity.
"Then you swipe it over a little bay station, which plugs into the side of a computer, then wirelessly uploads to our website," Greene said.
On the website kids see which of their friends "Sqord" the most exercise in a day.
Although bragging rights are involved, kids can only communicate with their friends by selecting a pre-determined list of positive phrases and virtual high fives.
Sqord targets the 8- to 13-year-old crowd.
Childhood obesity experts say it's during this time period that physical activity plummets.
"It's quite a vulnerable period during this middle school transition, and parents may have to work harder to try to find their children outlets for activity," said the University of North Carolina's Dr. Dianne Ward.
You don't have to be a soccer star or the fastest runner. When you're wearing the band, all you have to do is play.
In NBC's experiment with Sqord, kids literally would not stop moving, jogging extra laps and hopping around while waiting to see their score.
"I even noticed that when I put it on, I wanted more points, so I went out and played a little soccer with my brother," said 13-year-old Morgan.
Like any good online tool, Sqord is slowly going viral, piquing the interest of YMCAs.
Pilot programs have begun in some Florida and Colorado schools.
The Sqord technology will be available to the public after the first of the year.