Adhering to their therapy regimen is a major challenge for patients prescribed to do dull exercises. This most certainly applies to young lung patients who are required to do breathing exercises for as much as up to two hours a day. A game can make these exercises more acceptable and therefore increase motivation and therapy compliance, and ultimately the patient’s condition. Wind Tales, a start-up spun off from Vici Games, conceived of a serious game for children suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Using a specially designed blowing device, the patient can play in a fantasy world, for example on a tablet, in which he can propel himself and control objects by blowing through the device. In addition to the blowing device and the game, there is a dashboard. The person treating the patient can use this dashboard to monitor game activities and lung function, and adjust the game based on the patient’s progress. Lung function tests are also built into the game. The game activities and the lung function tests form an early warning system for any changes in the patient’s condition. That means the person treating the patient can remotely monitor the patient and intervene if necessary. Wind Tales worked together with DEMCON on the development of the spirometer game controller. DEMCON macawi respiratory systems, a subsidiary of the DEMCON Group, became involved in the project as a specialist in breathing systems. The request was to come up with a new sensor capable of measuring air flow in real time for controlling the game. Hereby it was important not to infringe on any patents for existing spirometer concepts (lung function meters).
DEMCON worked together with a development partner on a new sensor based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. The challenge for DEMCON was to demonstrate that the new sensor is suitable for this application. The goal was to meet the same specifications that apply to existing spirometers on the market, so that the game controller can also perform lung function tests. A great deal of attention was devoted to appearance and usability: what should the controller look like and what is the easiest way for the patient to use it? DEMCON deployed an industrial design team for this purpose. A table model of the spirometer game controller was developed first. The next step is to develop a handsfree model that forms part of a headset, so that the patient has both hands free for playing the game on a tablet.