By WRAL Tech Wire

DURHAM, N.C. – Three teams of middle-school students are helping a new company out of UNC Chapel Hill test an e-gaming device designed to encourage kids to be more physically active.

The students, all participants in Student U, a Durham-based community effort to help students reach their academic potential, have been wearing electronic devices similar to wristwatches since last Monday.

The devices, provided by Texas Instruments, track each wearer’s activity level and use Sqord-developed software to record daily activity levels on a website. The system is designed to encourage kids to be more active through fun competitions and the awarding of points and prizes.

The three groups of 11-and 12 year-olds wore the electronic devices between June 27 and July 1 while at Student U on the campus of Durham Academy. The test period culminated Friday when the group with the highest overall activity level won a healthy “dessert party” catered by Durham’s Local Yogurt.

Sqord founder Coleman Greene, a recent MBA graduate of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, hopes the two weeks of testing with the Durham youths will help the company refine its software to help change kids’ behaviors in positive ways.

“This is a way for us to work on getting our product ready for the market and to learn about what motivates kids to change their behavior,” said Greene. “We want our system to promote long-term increases in activity levels that will make kids healthier overall.”

Sqord is one of six new companies from UNC Chapel Hill that participate in this year’s Carolina Launch Pad.

Started in 2009 by RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute), the UNC Office of Technology Development and UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Carolina Launch Pad helps UNC students, faculty and staff turn their ideas and technical prototypes into viable technology businesses.

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