Computer games developed using motion-sensor technology could help reduce childhood obesity and other health issues by getting kids moving while playing indoors.
Running on the spot, jumping, ducking and disco dancing John Travolta-style with Elmo are among the moves in Sesame Street's first motion-sensor-based game using an Xbox Kinect, which was launched as a pilot last year.
The popular children's program is developing eight more educational games using Kinect, which are expected to be released later this year.
Eight-year-old Hamish Gartner and his four-year-old brother Aaron tested the Once Upon a Monster game together during the school holidays and within half an hour the brothers needed a break and a glass of water. They gave it a big thumbs up and scores of eight and nine out of 10.
Paediatrician Trevor Parry said child health experts were very concerned about the number of hours children were spending on inactive tasks such as video games.
"We would welcome anything which gets kids up and active and moving as a preventative to the idleness which just makes you sit and nibble snacks and exercise only your thumbs," he said.
"If the programs are interactive, so that you play in relationships rather than in isolation and if they are expanding your horizons, without just focusing on war and violence, it sounds like a good move."
Sesame Workshop innovation lab managing director Miles Ludwig said new games all involved interaction.
"We know from our research that kids learn more when other family members are watching or playing along with them," he said.
"Since interactive gaming is becoming more and more an activity for the whole family to do together, we've begun designing educational games that provide opportunities for mum, dad, or an older sibling to play along.
"In the future, I think we'll see mum using one device - her phone, for example - to interact with and encourage her daughter who is playing on a separate but connected device.
"When we imagine this kind of intergenerational, multi-device interactivity taking place in the car or in the grocery store, we see a lot of new opportunities for learning."
How Kinect works: Kinect is a rectangular black box that can be attached to a Microsoft Xbox console on top of or in front of your TV. Using a combination of a video camera, an infrared depth sensor and an array of microphones, the Kinect sensor can outline figures in a room.It can detect skeletal movements such as waving, jumping, bending or running on the spot, as well as voice commands. Unlike Wii consoles, the user's body is the controller - so they do not have to hold or wear anything.