Aryaball: A Toy to Fight Child Obesity?
by Tamika Moultrie on April 7, 2014 at 03:53 PM EDT

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Going outside and having fun seem to be a thing of the past for many youngsters now a days. Babak Forutanpour saw how his kids were more interested in their iPads than playing outside, so he created a 5-in-1 ball called the AryaBall to get kids active. Forutanpour’s AryaBall has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and countless tech outlets. Forutanpour  shares with GamerFitNation his inspiration behind AryaBall and how his invention is perfect for Michelle Obama’s campaign, Let’s Move.

GFN: The actions of your children playing on their iPads instead of going outside, what became the breaking point to make the decision and create?

Forutanpour: There really was no single breaking point, it was just a gradual increase in seeing how much time the kids were spending on their iPads and not going outside to play. The reason I made the ball was one of those times they got on the iPad was because I hadn’t taken the right ball to the park. When I knew that I had some control over the situation, besides simply taking it away, is when I made the ball. I don’t like to force behaviors on my kids, because it is only temporary. I would rather give them options and hope they make the right choices.

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GFN: Tell us, what exactly is the AryaBall, and why was that name chosen for it ?

ForutanpourI named it after Arya, my son, as he inspired it. He made me kick a football as if it was a soccer ball that I did not take to the park, which made me think about how I could make a ball that would squash and stretch to take any shape. When I couldn’t build that ball, I decided to start stuffing balls inside each other. I first started putting soccer balls inside footballs, but found the other way works best. Today, AryaBall is a soccer ball that opens to reveal a football and flying disc. The football opens to reveal a baseball that also looks like a golf ball. The bat I made turns into a golf putter.

GFN: Are you familiar with our First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign? What are your thoughts?

Forutanpour: I think it is great! I am a big supporter and wish I could somehow reach out to her. She would love AryaBall. I made this for the very reason she started her campaign: to get kids to be more active. We have the most sedentary generation that history has ever known, and we need to find an effective solution. The ball I made is one tiny step in making outdoor play more fun.

GFN: Child obesity is a big epidemic - what activities can kids do with the AryaBall?

Forutanpour: I developed an iPhone and Android scoreboard app that allows kids to take [the] AryaBall and AryaBat and randomize the order and length of games for soccer, football, baseball, golf and flying disc. It assigns points scored differently for each score, so Team A might beat Team B, say eight to five, cause they scored one extra touchdown (worth two points) and were under par by 1 stroke. AryaBall is not just a ball, it is a whole new way for kids and parents to enjoy their favorite sports!

GFN: Many years ago, Nerf reinvented the soccer and football with their innovative product. Were you inspired by it?

ForutanpourTo be honest, I have not seen a lot of innovation in the sports ball and bat space. The leather or foam ball I used as a kid is pretty much what are on store shelves now.

GFN: Your goal was to get your kids to enjoy the outdoors, but how do you feel about motion games like Kinect and Move to get children healthy through video games?

Forutanpour: I think those games are great! We have a Nintendo Wii and you can burn a few calories playing the tennis game. It is not as good as going outside and running and falling and tumbling and catching some rays, but it is sure better than staring at glowing pixels on a portable game pad of some sorts.

GFN: How did it feel to get NBC’s Today Show’s Hot New Toy for 2014?

Forutanpour: I mean, to go from tinkering in my garage in early February 2013 to see if I could make the world’s best ball, to [being] on the Today show a year later is just amazing. I was blown away. The best part is my 8-year-old daughter Darya, who inspired the bat (internally we call it the DaryaBat), told me one morning that she is proud of me. To have your kids see you … reach your dreams, I think motivates them to want to do the same, that if something can be done better, don’t complain about it, change it. Be it a ball or something more important in their lives.

GFN: When I look at the AryaBall, I think of it being the army swiss knife for outdoor games. Was that behind your inspiration too?

ForutanpourNo. I was just trying to give my son a football and soccerball in one. Then Darya said, ‘What about softball,’ so I added that. Then we went out for dinner one night and saw golf on all the TVs, and given I had taken her to the driving range, we looked at each other and knew we had to add that. Then my brother brought a Frisbee to the park and the kids loved it. So I had to figure out a way to get that added. In fact, if you look at pictures of our NYTF booth, you will see it says 4-in-1. I didn’t have the money to change it to 5-in-1 once I added the flying disc. (Laughs)

GFN: What are your goals for AryaBall or any other future endeavors ?

ForutanpourMy goal was to make a ball for my son and daughter, and I did that. If others want one, too, then I would be happy to make some. I have a day job as an engineer and have the good fortune of being paid a fair salary. I am not motivated by money, simply feel good to make things that others want. I am [an] inventor, that is what I do.

For more information on the AryaBall visit aryaball.com.

Edited by: Avery Osborn

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Edited by: Erika Kime

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