Dr Jaime Garcia is a Lecturer in Games Development at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).
His research interests lie in exploring the use of interactive video game technologies as a tool to improve physical and mental health of the elderly.
Before joining UTS, Jaime worked as a Software Engineer at Neuroscience Research Australia, primarily designing, developing and maintaining fall prevention video games and mobile apps for the Falls Balance Injury Research Centre.
He holds a PhD in Software Engineering and Information Systems from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and a BSc in Computer Science and Engineering from the Ponticia Universidad Javeriana Cali (Colombia).
His research projects include:
- The IMMERSE Project (interactive work incorporating live chamber and digital music performance),
- Project ELAINE (an asynchronous exergame for the elderly),
- Last Island (a computer-aid board game to teach sustainability),
- The StepKinnection Project (a bespoke Kinect game to prevent falls in the elderly),
- The MobileRehApp (an Augmented Reality mobile game for ankle sprain rehabilitation).
These projects have led to a series of high-quality publications in prestigious international conferences and journals.
Jaime has been twice awarded the Branko Cesnik Award for the best scientific paper in 2012 and 2015.
Jaime's work has been profiled by CNET, the Sydney Morning Herald, the 2SER Radio Station, the Australian Ageing Agenda, the Enquiring Minds Television Show on TVS and the UTS News Room.
During his career, Jaime has also worked in several software engineering projects for companies in the finance and accounting sector.
Can supervise: YES
Jaime's research interests include but are not limited to:
- Health Informatics
- Serious Game Design
- Game Development
- Computer Graphics
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Games Development
- Games Design
- Serious Games
- Interaction Design
- Interactive Media
- Applicatons Programming
- Networking Essentials
Garcia, JA, Schoene, D, Lord, SR, Delbaere, K, Valenzuela, T & Navarro, KF 2016, 'A Bespoke Kinect Stepping Exergame for Improving Physical and Cognitive Function in Older People: A Pilot Study', Games for Health Journal, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 382-388.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2016 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Background: Systematic review evidence has shown that step training reduces the number of falls in older people by half. This study investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of a bespoke Kinect stepping exergame in an unsupervised home-based setting. Materials and Methods: An uncontrolled pilot trial was conducted in 12 community-dwelling older adults (mean age 79.3 ± 8.7 years, 10 females). The stepping game comprised rapid stepping, attention, and response inhibition. Participants were recommended to exercise unsupervised at home for a minimum of three 20-minute sessions per week over the 12-week study period. The outcome measures were choice stepping reaction time (CSRT) (main outcome measure), standing balance, gait speed, five-time sit-to-stand (STS), timed up and go (TUG) performance, and neuropsychological function (attention: letter-digit and executive function:Stroop tests) assessed at baseline, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and trial end (12 weeks). Results: Ten participants (83%) completed the trial and reassessments. A median 8.2 20-minute sessions were completed and no adverse events were reported. Across the trial period, participants showed significant improvements in CSRT (11%), TUG (13%), gait speed (29%), standing balance (7%), and STS (24%) performance (all P < 0.05). There were also nonsignificant, but meaningful, improvements for the letter-digit (13%) and Stroop tests (15%). Conclusions: This study found that a bespoke Kinect step training program was safe and feasible for older people to undertake unsupervised at home and led to improvements in stepping, standing balance, gait speed, and mobility. The home-based step training program could therefore be included in exercise programs designed to prevent falls.
Garcia, JA & Felix Navarro, K 2015, 'StepKinnection: A Fall Prevention Game Mindfully Designed for the Elderly.', Studies in health technology and informatics, vol. 214, pp. 43-49.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper presents the StepKinnection game, a Kinect-driven stepping game for the elderly that delivers stepping exercises to train specific cognitive and physical abilities associated with falls. This system combines a set of suitable age-related features, meaningful exercise routines and an embedded clinical test for fall risk assessment. The combination of these three aspects makes the game potentially useful in practice as the game is appealing to the elderly cohort, trains one of the most important abilities to prevent falls and at the same time allows for a continuous assessment of health outcomes; characteristics not available in the literature nor in current commercial games.
Schoene, D, Valenzuela, T, Toson, B, Delbaere, K, Severino, C, Garcia, J, Davies, TA, Russell, F, Smith, ST & Lord, SR 2015, 'Interactive Cognitive-Motor Step Training Improves Cognitive Risk Factors of Falling in Older Adults - A Randomized Controlled Trial.', PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 12, pp. 1-18.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
PURPOSE: Interactive cognitive-motor training (ICMT) requires individuals to perform both gross motor movements and complex information processing. This study investigated the effectiveness of ICMT on cognitive functions associated with falls in older adults. METHODS: A single-blinded randomized controlled trial was conducted in community-dwelling older adults (N = 90, mean age 81.5±7) without major cognitive impairment. Participants in the intervention group (IG) played four stepping games that required them to divide attention, inhibit irrelevant stimuli, switch between tasks, rotate objects and make rapid decisions. The recommended minimum dose was three 20-minute sessions per week over a period of 16 weeks unsupervised at home. Participants in the control group (CG) received an evidence-based brochure on fall prevention. Measures of processing speed, attention/executive function (EF), visuo-spatial ability, concerns about falling and depression were assessed before and after the intervention. RESULTS: Eighty-one participants (90%) attended re-assessment. There were no improvements with respect to the Stroop Stepping Test (primary outcome) in the intervention group. Compared to the CG, the IG improved significantly in measures of processing speed, visuo-spatial ability and concern about falling. Significant interactions were observed for measures of EF and divided attention, indicating group differences varied for different levels of the covariate with larger improvements in IG participants with poorer baseline performance. The interaction for depression showed no change for the IG but an increase in the CG for those with low depressive symptoms at baseline. Additionally, low and high-adherer groups differed in their baseline performance and responded differently to the intervention. Compared to high adherers, low adherers improved more in processing speed and visual scanning while high-adherers improved more in tasks related to EF. CONCLUSIONS: This study sho...
Garcia Marin, JA, Navarro, KF, Schoene, D, Smith, S & Pisan, Y 2012, 'Exergames for the elderly: towards an embedded Kinect-based clinical test of falls risk', Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, vol. 178, no. 1, pp. 51-57.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Falls are the leading cause of disability, injuries or even death among older adults. Exercise programmes that include a balance component reduce the risk of falling by 40%. However, such interventions are often perceived as boring and drop-out rates are high. The characteristics of videogames may overcome this weakness and increase exercise adherence. The use of modern input devices, such as the Microsoft Kinect, enables quantification of player performance in terms of motor function while engaging with games. This capability has just started to be explored. The work presented in this paper focuses on the development of a Kinect-based system to deliver step training while simultaneously measuring parameters of stepping performance that have shown to predict falls in older people.
Taghikhah, F, Raffe, WL, Mitri, G, Toit, SD, Voinov, A & Garcia, JA 2019, 'Last Island: Exploring Transitions to Sustainable Futures through Play', ACM International Conference Proceeding Series.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2019 Association for Computing Machinery. A serious game was designed and developed with the goal of exploring potential sustainable futures and the transitions towards them. This computer-assisted board game, Last Island, which incorporates a system dynamics model into a board game's core mechanics, attempts to impart knowledge and understanding on sustainability and how an isolated society may transition to various futures to a non-expert community of players. To this end, this collaborativecompetitive game utilizes the Miniworld model which simulates three variables important for the sustainability of a society: Human population, economic production and the state of the environment. The resulting player interaction offers possibilities to collectively discover and validate potential scenarios for transitioning to a sustainable future, encouraging players to work together to balance the model output while also competing on individual objectives to be the individual winner of the game.
Garcia, JA 2018, 'Assessing the validity of in-game stepping performance data from a kinect-based fall prevention exergame', 2018 IEEE 6th International Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health, SeGAH 2018, IEEE International Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health, IEEE, Vienna, Austria, pp. 1-7.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2018 IEEE. One of the main limitations of commercial games is the inability to determine improvements in the mental and physical health of the players. Although high game scores might provide an indication of higher cognitive and physical abilities, these are not sufficient to reliably determine the improvement in health outcomes. The work presented in this paper hence focuses on determining whether the collection of clinical measures during gameplay could potentially be used as a reliable indicator of improvement. For this study, the author uses the StepKinnection game for fall prevention, a Kinect-based game which builds on a hybrid version of the Choice Stepping Reaction Time (CSRT) task, a validated test that has been shown to prospectively predict older fallers. A group of 10 independent-living older adults was recruited and asked played with the game for a 12 weeks period of time. Assessments were conducted at baseline and every four weeks. Stepping performance data collected through gameplay was compared to the validated CSRT test. Statistical analysis proved that the stepping performance data collected by the game correlated and agreed with the validated measures of the CSRT test, suggesting that this could be used as a reliable indicator for health improvements.
Garcia, JA, Raffe, WL & Navarro, KF 2018, 'Assessing user engagement with a fall prevention game as an unsupervised exercise program for older people', ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, Australasian Symposium on Parallel and Distributed Computing, ACM, Published in: · Proceeding ACSW '18 Proceedings of the Australasian Computer Science Week Multiconference Article No. 37 Brisband, Queensland, Australia, pp. 1-8.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2018 ACM. Falling is, unfortunately, a leading cause of injury and death in the global elderly population. However, it has previously been shown that increased physical and cognitive activity can decrease the occurrence of falls in the elderly. This paper investigates the potential for a long-term, unsupervised fall prevention training tool in the form of the StepKinnection game, which was designed to exercise both reflex times and movement speed while also providing entertainment. Specifically, this game was used in a three month user study consisting of 10 participants over the age of 65. Adherence to the training program, enjoyment of the game, and ease of use of the game were investigated using a custom usability questionnaire, four established usability scales, heuristic evaluation of gameplay data, and semi-structured interviews. Results show that participants generally had positive attitudes towards the game, they felt that they would engage with this training program more than there current exercises, and that the game was easy to use without guidance or supervision beyond the initial set up support and instructions provided at the start of the experiment period.
Raffe, WL & Garcia, JA 2018, 'Combining skeletal tracking and virtual reality for game-based fall prevention training for the elderly', 2018 IEEE 6th International Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health, SeGAH 2018, International Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health, IEEE, Vienna, Austria, pp. 1-7.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2018 IEEE. This paper provides a preliminary appraisal of combining commercial skeletal tracking and virtual reality technologies for the purposes of innovative gameplay interfaces in fall prevention exergames for the elderly. This work uses the previously published StepKinnection game, which used skeletal tracking with a flat screen monitor, as a primary point of comparison for the proposed combination of these interaction modalities. Here, a Microsoft Kinect is used to track the player's skeleton and represent it as an avatar in the virtual environment while the HTC Vive is used for head tracking and virtual reality visualization. Multiple avatar positioning modes are trialled and discussed via a small self-reflective study (with the authors as participants) to examine their ability to allow accurate stepping motions, maintain physical comfort, and encourage self-identification or empathy with the avatar. While this is just an initial study, it highlights promising opportunities for designing engaging step training games with this integrated interface but also highlights its limitations, especially in the context of an unsupervised exercise program of older people in independent living situations.
Garcia, JA, Pisan, Y, Tan, CT & Navarro, KF 2014, 'Assessing the kinect's capabilities to perform a time-based clinical test for fall risk assessment in older people', Entertainment Computing – ICEC 2014 (LNCS), International Conference on Entertainment Computing, Springer Verlag, Sydney, NSW, Australia, pp. 100-107.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The Choice Stepping Reaction Time (CSRT) task is time-based clinical test that has shown to reliably predict falls in older adults. Its current mode of delivery involves the use of a custom-made dance mat device. This mat is a measurement tool that can reliably obtain step data to discriminate between fallers and non-fallers. One of the pitfalls of this test is that the technology in use still imposes an obstacle on the degree of freedom to be able to perform adaptive exercises suitable for the elderly. In this paper, we describe a Kinect-based system that measures stepping performance through the use of a hybrid version of the CSRT task. This study focuses on assessing this system's capabilities to reliably measure a time-based clinical test of fall risk. Results showed a favorable correspondence and agreement between the two systems, suggesting that this platform could be potentially useful in the clinical practice.
Garcia Marin, J & Felix Navarro, KM 2014, 'The Mobile RehApp™: an AR-based mobile game for ankle sprain rehabilitation', Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE 3rd International Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health (SeGAH), IEEE International Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health (SeGAH), IEEE, Rio de Janeiro, pp. 1-6.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
People struggle to recover from injuries due to the lack of commitment to their rehabilitation exercises as they are often boring. Recent approaches that involve the use of interactive video games have shown positive results in exercising as users engage in physical activity while playing a game. For example Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Kinect based games have shown to be effective in the treatment of post stroke patients. Yet, there are not tools in the market that offer portable rehabilitation exercises in the form of interactive games. The work presented in this paper focuses on the development of the Mobile RehApp™, an augmented reality based application for mobile devices designed for therapeutic support that aims to assist physiotherapists and patients on ankle sprain rehabilitation.
Garcia Marin, JA, Pisan, Y, Tan, C & Felix Navarro, KM 2014, 'Step kinnection: a hybrid clinical test for fall risk assessment in older adults', CHI '14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, Toronto, Canada, pp. 471-474.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Pisan, Y, Garcia Marin, JA & Felix Navarro, KM 2013, 'Improving Lives: Using Microsoft Kinect to Predict the Loss of Balance for Elderly Users under Cognitive Load', Proceedings of the Ninth Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment, Interactive Entertainment, ACM Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-4.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Among older adults, falling down while doing everyday tasks is the leading cause for injuries, disabilities and can even result in death. Furthermore, even when no injury has occurred the fear of falling can result in loss of confidence and independence. The two major factors in the loss of balance is weakening of the muscles and reduced cognitive skills. While exercise programmes can reduce the risk of falling by 40%, patient compliance with these programmes is low. We present the Microsoft-Kinect based step training program system that we have developed specifically for elderly patients. The program measures physical health and cognitive abilities and incorporates an individualized adaptive program for improvements. The real-time data obtained from the program is similar to clinical evaluations typically conducted by doctors and the game-like exercises result in increased adherence to the exercise regimes
Lawrence, EM, Felix Navarro, KM, Sax, C & Garcia Marin, J 2011, 'Towards Building Health Systems', The Sixth International Conference on Systems, International Conference on Systems, IARIA Conference, St. Maarten, The Netherlands Antilles, pp. 109-114.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This paper reports on a series of interviews with three mainstream and three alternative/complimentary health professionals about the use of interactive technologies as a tool to improve the physical and mental well-being of the elderly. The questions are based around an Analytic Framework for investigating Interactive Technologies and the elderly. Four balance games using the Wii were demonstrated to the interviewees and their opinion of the suitability or otherwise of these games are discussed. The chosen games did not meet with universal approval but did provide us with useful insights on how to ensure the development of appropriate games for the elderly.
Garcia Marin, JA, Lawrence, EM, Felix Navarro, KM & Sax, C 2011, 'Heuristic Evaluation for Interactive Games within Elderly Users', The Third International Conference on eHealth, Telemedicine, and Social Medicine (eTELEMED 2011), International Conference on eHealth, Telemedicine and Social Medicine, IARIA Conference, Gosier, Guadalupe, France, pp. 130-133.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This paper presents the results obtained after performing a number of demonstrations followed by a series of interviews concerning the usage of interactive games as a tool to improve both physical and mental well-being of elderly persons. This study points out the importance of a proper design regarding the usability of video games for the aged to ensure the elderly benefit from such games.
Felix Navarro, KM, Lawrence, EM, Garcia Marin, JA & Sax, C 2011, 'A Dynamic and Customisable Layered Serious Game Design Framework for Improving the Physical and Mental Health of the Aged and the Infirm', The Third International Conference on eHealth, Telemedicine, and Social Medicine (eTELEMED 2011), International Conference on eHealth, Telemedicine and Social Medicine, IARIA Conference, Gosier, Guadeloupe, France, pp. 140-145.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This paper proposes a dynamic and customizable layered serious game design framework for improving the physical and mental health of the aged after presenting the results obtained from a study with mainstream and alternative/complimentary health professionals concerning the usage of interactive games as a tool to improve both physical and mental well-being of the elderly. This study reports on the commonality of design and health factors regarding the usability of video games for the aged to ensure the elderly benefit from traditional and alternative healthcare professionalsâ perspectives.
Garcia Marin, JA, Felix Navarro, KM & Lawrence, EM 2011, 'Serious Games to Improve the Physical Health of the Elderly: A Categorization Scheme', The Fourth International Conference on Advances in Human-oriented and Personalized Mechanisms, Technologies, and Services (CENTRIC 2011), International Conference on Advances in Human-oriented and Personalized Mechanisms, Technologies, and Services, IARIA, Barcelona, Spain, pp. 64-71.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
this paper aims to provide a snapshot of the current status in the field of serious games for improving the physical health of the elderly. This work covers recent research projects for stroke rehabilitation and for falls prevention where user-center design methodologies were applied in order to satisfy this audience. A classification of the most relevant work in this area is provided along with a brief description of the platform, technology required and user-center design principles applied.
Over the past few years, Jaime has been working closely on a rage of game-related projects in collaboration with:
- Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)
- University of Newcastle
- University of Western Sydney
- UTS Faculty of Health
- UTS Faculty of Design and Architecture
- UTS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences