Capstone team gamifies child respiratory care with underwater exploration game

Feb 23, 2024
LRH incentive spirometer capstone team

Florida Polytechnic University seniors Elijah Needham (left) and D’Angelo Rodriguez demonstrate the video game created by their capstone team for Lakeland Regional Health. The game is intended to encourage pediatric patients to better use an incentive spirometer to help improve their lung health.

A group of seniors at Florida Polytechnic University is working to help improve the respiratory health of pediatric patients by making the use of a basic medical device more fun and engaging. The project is sponsored by Lakeland Regional Health.

When recovering from illness or surgery, patients can be asked to blow into an incentive spirometer to exercise their lungs. The patient blows into the handheld device and the exhaled air lifts a ball, serving as a visual cue of how well they are doing.

The multidisciplinary team of Florida Poly students has developed a side-scrolling game called Deep Sea Breathers, designed to encourage pediatric patients to better use the incentive spirometer. The diving-based video game tasks the player with filling their oxygen tank and using that air to explore the ocean. It is intended for patients ages 5 to 15.

“Whenever a patient sits on their bed and has to do a breathing exercise, a cart gets wheeled out and hooked up to a controller where they will see a game,” said computer engineering major Jared Roberts. “They’ll see a prompt and do their exercise and based on how they do the exercise, they will be able to play the game. This will help make sure the patient is relaxed and having a good time.”

At each new session, players will be able to start a new game or pick up a previous game from where they left off. The team’s goal is to transform a mundane activity into something new.

“They’re probably going to have to do these exercises quite a few times and this will help keep them engaged and looking forward to doing them and even enjoying them,” Roberts said.

The team said the final project will have a digital spirometer integrated to an assembled controller programmed with an Arduino microcontroller with a button and a joystick. 

“We built the game in Unity for software implementation, using the Corgi plugin,” said computer science major D’Angelo Rodriguez. “We are developing our personal controller, and this allows us to have modularity when it comes to inputs so we can add scenes on the fly and do custom generation.”

So far, the project is headed in the right direction, the team said. They meet multiple times per week both online and in person, ironing out the remaining challenges.

“It’s interesting getting to work with people from different majors,” said computer science major Joyselle Sarmiento. “You get to look into the computing and mechanical engineering hardware aspect that others get to do and see how we can all merge our specialties together to create something great.”

Roberts said this intensive collaboration is also helping to prepare the team members for life in the real world.

“We have deadlines, weekly meetings, and it feels a lot more like a professional environment than a regular class project,” he said. “We’re getting an understanding of the ins and outs of the development of a project, and I feel like that could be very valuable for going forward with other jobs.”

LRH-sponsored incentive spirometer capstone team

Florida Polytechnic University seniors Jenna Castlewitz (left), Elijah Needham, Jared Roberts, D’Angelo Rodriguez, Jacob Bargeron, and Joyselle Sarmiento are members of a capstone design team working on a project for industry sponsor Lakeland Regional Health. The team is creating a video game designed to encourage pediatric patients to better use an incentive spirometer to help improve their lung health.


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications