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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Shoe kick-starts active lifestyle
Base station of Square-eyes
The base station converts steps to TV time
It could be the ultimate incentive to get kids exercising - a shoe that controls the amount of TV they watch.

The shoe - dubbed Square-eyes - has a unique insole that records the amount of exercise a child does and converts it into television watching time.

One button on the shoe - the brainchild of a student at west London's Brunel University - records the number of steps taken by the child over the day.

Another transmits this information to a base station connected to the TV.

Less active

It calculates the time earned and once it runs out, the TV automatically switches itself off.

The health monitoring insole has been designed by Gillian Swan, a final year design student at Brunel.

"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.

The insole of Square-eyes
The buttons are hidden in the shoe's insole
"Square-eyes will help children to include exercise in their daily routines from an early age," she added.

Pedometers that measure the amount of steps taken in a day are becoming very popular among both adults and children. The majority set a daily target of around 10,000 steps.

The target of Square-eyes is a little higher. The ultimate aim is 12,000 steps for girls and 15,000 for boys - a target which should be "easily achievable for more active children," said Ms Swan.

Realising a concept

While children might find the recommended maximum two hours TV time a little stingy, the device could be an eye-opener for parents.

"It will raise awareness among the family of their sedentary lifestyle and bring about a change in behaviour for the whole family," said Paul Turnock, design director of Brunel's School of Engineering and Design.

Obesity is on the increase in the UK. In 1995, 9.9% of two to 10-year-olds were classified as obese. This rose to 13.7% in 2003.

Square-eyes will be showcased alongside the other work of Brunel graduates at the University's School of Engineering and Design next week.

"This project is an excellent example of realising a concept and creating a wholly feasible future project," said Mr Turnock.

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