Overabundance of Space

There are hundreds of millions of square feet of excess mall, retail, and suburban office space in the US. Below are some of the articles that we rely upon to inform this assumption.


Dying Malls In The United States


According to Ellen Dunham-Jones, an architect and professor at Georgia Tech, there are about 1,200 enclosed malls in the United States, and about one-third of them are dead or dying.


America's Shopping Malls Are Dying A Slow, Ugly Death


Traffic-driving anchors like Sears and JCPenney are shutting down stores, and mall owners are having a hard time finding retailers large enough to replace them. With a fresh wave of closures on the horizon, the problem is set to accelerate, according to retail and real estate analysts.


America's Department Stores May Have to Close Hundreds of Locations


Chains such as Sears, JCPenney and Macy’s have been hit by a double whammy: the loss of market share to Amazon and specialty stores, coupled with chronic drops in shopper traffic to malls. Collectively, they would need to close some 800 stores for sales per square foot to go back to 2006 levels, Green Street Advisors wrote in a recent research note. That translates to 25% of all department stores nationwide.”


Macy's Is Closing Another 100 Stores


In a sign of how dramatically the retail shopping landscape is changing, Macy's is closing 100 of its stores nationwide.  Macy's (M) announced the closures Thursday. They represent about 15% of all Macy's department stores. The iconic retailer did not disclose the locations of stores, but said most of them will be shut down in early 2017.


Walmart Will Close 269 Stores This Year


The company said the stores it plans to close are generally poor performers, and most are within 10 miles of another Walmart. 154 of the locations are in the United States, two-thirds of which are the smaller "Walmart Express" stores. Only 12 U.S. Walmart Supercenters will close, along with four Sam's Club stores.


Lists of Store Closings

on FierceRetail: examples: Kmart, Sports Authority, Sears, Men’s Wearhouse, Kohl's


on The Balance: examples: Office Depot, Barnes and Noble, Walgreens


on The Balance: state by state closures



The Sad State of Suburban Office Parks


Between 14 and 22 percent of the suburban office inventory is “in some stage of obsolescence,” suggesting that between 600 million and 1 billion square feet of office space are far from ideal for the modern company and worker. That’s about 7.5 percent of the country’s entire office inventory.

The Hardest Problem in Recreation

The Cat-Herd-Matrix-Space-Problem
If we want more people to be compelled to vigorously exercise, mixed-group scheduling combined with play space provisioning is the hardest problem (in recreation) to solve.

• • •

It’s 4:00 PM on a sunny Saturday afternoon and Joe, age 8, is sitting on the couch watching television. There are five hundred other kids within ten miles doing nearly the same thing. There are countless athletic fields, play courts, and parks nearby...and all of them are empty.

Everyone is bored, but nobody is playing.  

Most kids - and many adults - won’t turn down an opportunity to vigorously participate in a fun group activity. So why are so many of them sitting on the couch?

Imagine five hundred willing participants within ten miles (more or less depending on population density), they are girls and boys ages eight to eighteen, athletes and non-athletes, and availability (to play) depends on transportation and other commitments.

Today, to spontaneously move five hundred kids off of the couch, it would take an army of on-demand coordinators to reserve play spaces, schedule supervision, and distribute the participants into balanced play groups that meet everyone's needs.  

The coordinators would have to account for availability (kids and supervisors by time slot), age-range, gender, skill-level, friend requests (to play together), transportation logistics, proximity, and play space inventory.

All of this coordinating would require at least five-thousand messages, and just as many playgroup and destination re-configurations.  

Moreover, securing safe, convenient, and appropriate places to play makes the problem even harder to solve. Participants will need to cross borders into other towns and cities to participate, and this is typically frowned upon by host communities that maintain public spaces for local taxpayers (only).

Now imagine doing this planning, reserving, and coordinating within every ten mile radius, every day, and all day long; this is what it will take to get people everywhere...spontaneously off of the couch. 

Leagues, clubs, and youth sports organizations solve a tiny fraction of this problem, but they can’t deliver a solution on demand. It’s too hard.  

If we want to get people to get off the couch by enabling spontaneous group play, we have to solve the Cat-Herd-Matrix-Space-Problem first.

Eighty percent of the solution involves designing a super-simple (to end users) on-demand, playgroup scheduling and communication system (see www.x.ai for ideas), and the remaining twenty percent of the solution involves continuously providing enough play space inventory. More on this later...

Augmented Recreation

Most people generally think of ‘virtual reality’ and ‘augmented reality’ as far out technology that includes 3D images, clunky headsets, wonky glasses, and animated worlds.  If you are wondering how any of this could ever cause anyone to vigorously exercise, take a look at the video below.  

Radori, the company that created the ‘Time Trial’ software featured in the video, has created the world's first augmented reality speed climbing game.

Now imagine augmented recreation machinery (software, hardware, sensors, etc.) that projects images, graphics, cartoons, and targets that can be chased, gathered, and competed for; users can play in a room, around a neighborhood, or across a city (e.g.: Pokemon Go); and, they will play locally, globally, competitively, casually, vigorously, spontaneously, or any other way that fits their lifestyle, situation, and capabilities.  

Augmented recreation is coming; it’s going to get people off of the couch, and it’s going to change the way we exercise.

Facts & Statistics


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Fun is the single largest predictor of sport commitment and sustained participation in childhood and through adolescence.


From Project Play: Sports Activity and Children

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Starting at age 9 -- when children often develop a self-concept of whether or not they are an athlete -- physical activity rates begin to drop sharply. By age 15, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity declines 75%, a higher rate than in Europe (Designed to Move, 2012). At that point, they average only 49 minutes per weekday and 35 minutes per weekend (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008). Among kids ages 6-17, one in five youth are considered inactive, meaning they report no physical activity (Physical Activity Council, 2015).

Further, only one in three children is physically active every day (Fitness.gov). As measured by SFIA in 2015, youth ages 6 to 12 who were "active to a healthy level and beyond" through sports fell again, to 26.6 percent, down from 30.2 percent in 2008. The same trend plays out for youth ages 13 to 17 years old, 39.3 percent of whom were active to a healthy level through sports in 2015, down from 42.7 percent in 2008. The SFIA statistic is defined as those engaged in high-calorie burning activities a minimum of 151 times during the year. Based on guidance from the CDC, 55 sport and fitness activities qualify, including the vast majority of popular team sports plus other recreational activities. Meanwhile, nearly one in three children is completely inactive, meaning they did not engage in any physical activity in the past year.



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Casual participation continued to fall in several of the most popular sports, according to the SFIA data on youth ages 6 to 12. Between 2014 and 2015, volleyball, baseball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, ice hockey, and lacrosse all experienced drops in the percentage of kids (core and casual participants) who played those games, in any form, at least once.



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From age 9 to age 15, American kids’ moderate-to-vigorous physical activity decreases by 38 minutes per year.  Studies in Europe and the United States find that a gender gap exists by age 9, with boys more active than girls.  By age 15, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among children in Europe is cut in half from 9-year-old levels (a 48 percent drop for boys and a 54 percent drop for girls).  For American kids, it drops by 75 percent between age 9 and age 15.  A study among Chinese youth showed that on average, kids got only 20 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity in school.  However, 92 percent of them get no physical activity outside of school.


From The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

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  • Only one in three children are physically active every day.
  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
  • Only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.
  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
  • In 2013, research found adults in the following states to be most likely to report exercising 3 or more days a week for at least 30 minutes: Vermont (65.3%), Hawaii (62.2%), Montana (60.1%), Alaska (60.1%). The least likely were Delaware (46.5%), West Virginia (47.1%) and Alabama (47.5%). The national average for regular exercise is 51.6%.
  • Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer).
  • Nationwide, 25.6% of persons with a disability reported being physically inactive during a usual week, compared to 12.8% of those without a disability.
  • Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.
  • Only 6 states (Illinois, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York and Vermont) require physical education in every grade, K-12.
  • 28.0% of Americans, or 80.2 million people, aged six and older are physically inactive.
  • Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day.


  • Typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat.
  • Americans eat less than the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, dairy products, and oils.
  • About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet.8
  • Reducing the sodium Americans eat by 1,200mg per day on could save up to $20 billion a year in medical costs.
  • Food available for consumption increased in all major food categories from 1970 to 2008. Average daily calories per person in the marketplace increased approximately 600 calories.2
  • Since the 1970s, the number of fast food restaurants has more than doubled.
  • More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in food deserts – areas that are more than a mile away from a supermarket.
  • In 2008, an estimated 49.1 million people, including 16.7 million children, experienced food insecurity (limited availability to safe and nutritionally adequate foods) multiple times throughout the year.
  • In 2013, residents of the following states were most likely to report eating at least five servings of vegetables four or more days per week: Vermont (68.7%), Montana (63.0%) and Washington (61.8%). The least likely were Oklahoma (52.3%), Louisiana (53.3%) and Missouri (53.8%). The national average for regular produce consumption is 57.7%.
  • Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of total daily calories for 2–18 year olds and half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.
  • US adults consume an average of 3,400 mg/day [of sodium], well above the current federal guideline of less than 2,300 mg daily.
  • Food safety awareness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition education. In the United States, food-borne agents affect 1 out of 6 individuals and cause approximately 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year.
  • US per capita consumption of total fat increased from approximately 57 pounds in 1980 to 78 pounds in 2009 with the highest consumption being 85 pounds in 2005.
  • The US percentage of food-insecure households, those with limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways, rose from 11% to 15% between 2005 and 2009.


  • Data from 2009-2010 indicates that over 78 million U.S. adults and about 12.5 million (16.9%) children and adolescents are obese.
  • Recent reports project that by 2030, half of all adults (115 million adults) in the United States will be obese.
  • Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.13 14
  • For children with disabilities, obesity rates are approximately 38% higher than for children without disabilities. It gets worse for the adult population where obesity rates for adults with disabilities are approximately 57% higher than for adults without disabilities.
  • Obesity Then and Now.

Prevalence of obesity for children ages 2 to 5 years – doubled

Early 1970s: 5%
2007-08: 10%

Prevalence of obesity for children ages 6 to 11 years – quadrupled

Early 1970s: 4%
2007-08: 20%

Prevalence of obesity for children ages 12 to 19 years – tripled

Early 1970s: 6%
2007-08: 18%

Percentage of obese adults – doubled

Early 1970s: 15%
2007-08: 34%

States with an adult obesity prevalence rate of more than 25%:

Early 1970s: Zero
2007-08: 32

  • Nearly 45% of children living in poverty are overweight or obese compared with 22% of children living in households with incomes four times the poverty level.
  • Almost 40% of Black and Latino youth ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese compared with only 29% of White youth.
  • Obesity among children in the United States has remained flat - at around 17% - in 2003-2004 and 2011-2012.
  • Between 2003 and 2012, obesity among children between 2 and 5 years of age has declined from 14% to 8% - a 43% decrease in just under a decade.
  • Obesity rates in children 6 to 11 years old have decreased from 18.8% in 2003-2004 to 17.7% in 2011-2012; obesity rates for children 12 to 19 years old have increased from 17.4% to 20.5% in the same time period.


  • Obesity-related illness, including chronic disease, disability, and death, is estimated to carry an annual cost of $190.2 billion.
  • Projections estimate that by 2018, obesity will cost the U.S. 21 percent of our total healthcare costs - $344 billion annually.
  • Those who are obese have medical costs that are $1,429 more than those of normal weight on average (roughly 42% higher).
  • The annual cost of being overweight is $524 for women and $432 for men; annual costs for being obese are even higher: $4,879 for women and $2,646 for men.
  • Obesity is also a growing threat to national security – a surprising 27% of young Americans are too overweight to serve in our military. Approximately 15,000 potential recruits fail their physicals every year because they are unfit.
  • The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion.