University of Victoria

Together we CanAssist.

Motivational Exercise Bike for DVD player

Laurel Duruisseau runs an alternative school for children with autism spectrum disorders. As winter approached, she faced the challenge of finding indoor activities to keep her students active.

She installed a recumbent stationary bicycle in the school, but wasn't convinced that her students would be motivated to use it.

Laurel figured that the kids would only use the bike if it were somehow connected to one of their favourite activities—watching DVDs. So she approached CanAssist to see if the motion of the bike could somehow be used to activate a DVD player.

Sebastien (right) is a student at the school. He is joined by Carl.Carl Spani, a senior electrical design specialist with CanAssist, was put in charge of finding a solution. First, Carl developed a control box and sensor. The sensor was encased in the front wheel and reads how fast the wheel is spinning. The control box was attached to the back of the bicycle seat.

“The control box is like the brain of the operation,” explains Carl.

When a child's pedalling speed reaches a preset level, the control box sends a signal to a small wireless unit. This unit acts as a remote control to turn the television on via an infrared signal. Likewise, when the pedalling stops or slows below the preset level, the TV stops too.

When the adapted bike was first introduced to Laurel's students, they were clearly impressed—a small chorus of “cool” and “awesome” could be heard.

It seems likely that in the winters to come, keeping fit won't be so difficult at Laurel's school.

“We wanted to have a piece of fitness equipment on-site that was engaging,” says Laurel. “The Motivational Exercise Bike provides a fun, motivating form of exercise on those rainy winter days.”

(Funding for this project was generously provided by the Norgaard Foundation.)

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