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Gaming Tech Could Help Us All Breathe Easier

Fast forwarding from the days of Pac-Man and Space Invaders, the gamification of society has impacted everything from the development of software functionality to the use of joysticks in maneuvering sensitive manufacturing controls.

The impact that video games could have on society was probably never considered when Atari first introduced a round, Twinkie-colored character being chased by a collection of pixelated ghosts.

Fast forwarding from the days of Pac-Man and Space Invaders, the gamification of society has impacted everything from the development of software functionality to the use of joysticks in maneuvering sensitive manufacturing controls.

Now you can add respiratory healthcare to the list of applications where video games are having an influence.  Researchers at the University of Warwick and University of Birmingham in the UK have developed a method of using sensors from Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect to care for patients.

Their system utilizes four Kinect sensors to create a 3D image of a patient's torso as they inhale and exhale. This data can then be used to create a low-cost model of the chest, which enables physicians to measure and assess how a chest wall moves.

In tests, these sensors have proven to be as accurate as current methods, but provide additional information that could lead to better treatment options for diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, emphysema, chronic obstructive airways and bronchitis.

Spirometry, the most common approach for lung disease testing, doesn't show how different areas of the two lungs function. It also doesn’t account for physical differences that make taking deep breathes in and out of a tube more difficult.

Additionally, while these systems typically cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000. The newly developed prototyping system consists of software and four Kinect sensors, each of which cost about $112.

I'm Anna Wells, and this is IEN Now.

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