Several years ago I broke my leg (horseback riding) and I used a balance board to train my muscles. The training with the balance board was very effective but also very boring. I dreamed of creating my own balance board games and play it on the TV. I tinkered around with Arduino - but phew - all those cables, how to simulate keypresses, how to write a game, hm I need to connect my laptop to the TV every time I want to play. What about Raspberry Pi? Need to learn Linux and Python and a gaming framework... Or should I use my phone as a sensor? Send the sensor data via a native app via a web socket to an HTML5 game? These things are not unsolvable, but very "hacky" - not "end-consumer-friendly". The Wii Balance board itself is a great idea, but back then it was not really challenging for my muscles.
Fast forward 2018: end of 2016 I turned into a Swift iOS developer (previous web developer). In 2017 I bought an Apple TV, end of 2017 I wrote my first SpriteKit Game for iOS (loooooong time ago I created games in Flash) and a few days ago I created my first Apple TV app and game. Special thanks to Paul Hudson for his Dive into SpriteKit and Hacking with tvOS books.
I own the previous version of the current Apple TV and the remote control, called Siri Remote, has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope. Now I only needed to mount the Siri Remote onto my balance board. I was thinking about a 3D printed case, but when I was in my kitchen doing my dishes I spotted my plastic lunch box. Ha!!! Looks like a perfect solution. It should prevent me from stepping onto my Siri Remote. I am not liable if you hurt yourself or break your Siri Remote. I used some tape to secure the lunch box (velcro tape would also work) and some cut some cardboard so that the Siri Remote doesn't move around.
Now I only needed to read the sensor values from the remote and create a game, easy right? Haha, just kidding. Before I could read the sensor values I needed to register the Siri Remote as a GamePad which took me a while to figure out how this is done. In terms of games - yeah, coming up with the right idea, learning how to use SpriteKit, drawing some cute characters and digitalizing them is a totally different story. I managed to create a small prototype (a bear catching fish) and seeing my own game on the big screen and controlling it with my "own" controller was really amazing!
I have created a GitHub repository where you can find more background information, technical details, and a starter project. I will continue to work on different game types, write down UX considerations for balance board games, update my repository accordingly and tweet some status updates. I hope to release an Apple TV game with balance board support in 2018. With my current solution, everyone could turn their Siri Remote into a balance board and use a balance board according to your budget and fitness level. Let me know what you think!
PS: If you find a game on the Apple TV store which you can control only via tilting your Siri Remote left/right/up/down you could also control it via the balance board if you put the Siri Remote upside down.