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Body Countour is based on on a range of popular "step" aerobic exercises, and makes extensive use of moving footage.

Body Contour provides a comprehensive guide to nutrition and physical exercise with a metaphorical visit to the Body Trend Fitness Club.

The two-disc CD-I title includes work-outs for beginners and those who already take regular exercise in other forms. A range of supporting information includes advice on diet and a wider exercise regime, as well as the facilities available in professional health and sports centres plus advertising for sports equipment and clothes.

The variety of exercise videos already on the market convinced the partners in the Body Contour consortium that there is a receptive audience for this kind of audio-visual product. However, with the linear video market virtually saturated with lookalike exercise titles, it was important to distinguish this multimedia product from the competition.

Unlike conventional videos, Body Contour provides an interactive experience which includes a personalised workout routine, and a record of progress as new fitness levels are achieved.


The programme begins with an'intake procedure'which simulates that of a real health club. Users record data such as their age, weight, gender and heart rate, following instructions on the disc. These figures are entered through the CD-i control pad, and stored in the player's memory.

The system interprets these data to present users with a graphical representation of their fitness level, and to devise a tailored fitness programme. When users then 'enter' the Step Studio, they are shown video clips of appropriate exercises to follow, with the type or duration of each routine already calculated to suit their own fitness level easy for beginners, more vigorous for seasoned athletes. As users continue to record their changing weight and heart rate, the system adjusts their exercise programme accordingly - a feature with no parallel in the linear video market.

The package also looks at nutrition from a European perspective, with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus from seven national cuisines, as well as tutorials on healthy eating in a choice of English, Dutch and German. Having selected a menu, users can quickly find a list of ingredients and instructions to make the meal. The importance of striking a balance between exercise, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is emphasised throughout the package. 


The ability to store, use and update personal data is familiar enough in mainstream computing and multimedia training systems, but is still a novelty in consumer products. Henk Sligte of SPC/Vision, this project's co-ordinator, says that "Body Contour is perhaps the first application which shows how CD-i can be more than a storage and information retrieval medium".

Providing this degree of interactivity on a low-cost consumer player like CD-i is not easy. Most interactive video (IV) or CD-based training systems use a separate desktop computer to record and analyse data: a single-box consumer player must rely on its own built-in processing power and memory.

Moreover, the prototype of this project was developed in tandem with the introduction of digital video to CD-i, so the developers were often obliged to devise their own tools and techniques to achieve effects which were still new to the CD-i environment.

Despite considerable experience as a developer of CD-i games, SPC/Vision found that standard authoring tools and libraries of software routines - which usually help to streamline the production process - were unequal to the demands of this project. The production team therefore wrote many of its own routines, using the C++ programming language and machine code, and drawing on expertise developed in the games market.

Combining this expertise with the 'beta test'version of Philips' full-motion video (FMV) chipset, SPC/Vision demonstrated true 'fullmotion' video on a prototype of Body Contour some months before FMV became a commercial reality in the CD-i market. While much of this is now familiar territory to other CD-i developers, the learning curve was an exhilarating one for the Body Contour team. As Sligte observes, "in multimedia, two years is an absolute era!".


Body Contour can now deliver over 90 minutes of video clips on two compact discs. This is a considerable achievement in technical terms from the perspective of the multimedia community; the bitter pill, of course, is that few people in the consumer market would expect anything less of a product which is competing directly with linear videotapes.

Ultimately, it is the combination of this video with meaningful interactivity that really sets Body Contour apart. A personalised fitness regime - as well as specific advice on diet and healthcare genuinely represents a new message delivered by a new medium.

The development of the product is, of course, only part of any publishing venture. Marketing plans evolved in tandem with these discs include the possibility of branding the title with an endorsement from a leading European sports personality. Bruna, the publishing partner, also plans to bundle the disc with a book on fitness throughout its large chain of bookshops. In the meantime, SPC/Vision is looking at other software tools to enhance Body Contour's unique facility to tailor each presentation to the individual user.





SPC/Vision bv Netherlands CO-ORDINATOR 

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