Ji Hyun Lee

Flying Penguin

Flying Penguin is a mobile game that encourages children with asthma between the ages of 5 and 8 to practice breathing techniques.



Flying Penguin is a mobile game for kids who have underlying mild to moderate asthma. Flying Penguin invites them to practice proper breathing techniques. Recreating a spirometer, a mechanism used to measure exhalation, the goal of this game is to make an animated skiing penguin jump as far as possible by blowing on the microphone with a single strong breath. Flying Penguin introduces children to breathing exercises that increase their lung capacity and leads to a pathway to help them learn how to self-manage their asthma. Flying Penguin helps children with their breathing conditions in a fun, interactive, drug-free way.

I started research about lung diseases and found out there are many of U.S children have asthma and it leads to the top most reason of absence from school. I went to NYU Children's Ambulatory Care Center and had a chance to get spirometer tested, which measures patients' lung capacity. It was a super giant machine and I felt very nervous when I got tested. I talked to some of breathing therapists, especially for kids. They usually use of mimic techniques that children are familiar with and play with for little children. For example, they make a kid to imagine that they are blowing the largest bubble in the world. It is the same technique but it helps little children to understand better. So I thought what if there is something not only help them practice breathing but let them enjoy the times with fun while playing with in daily life.

children with asthma between the ages of 5 and 8

User Scenario
A kid is holding a penguin beak whistle in their mouth and looking at the screen,without regard to wire. And then they are supposed to take a deep breath in and hold it for a couple of seconds. They start to blow it out in one breath in order to make the animated penguin jump as far as possible.

There are two elements for this project: mobile application and penguin beak whistle.

For mobile application, I started to build a prototype on Processing with Box2d library which simulates physics world that I learned from the Nature of Code class. I migrated the source code to openFrameworks to build an iOS application after I figured out how I could implement jumping penguin based on the level of sound from the microphone. I used Adobe Illustrator to design graphic interface. I try to keep it simple and intuitive for young audience.

Before making the penguin beak, I would like to test if a bluetooth module can talk to iOS device. This is because it would be better to be wireless so that children can look at the screen while playing the game, without regard to wire. Firstly I used bluetooth keyboard for the experiment because of the fact that iOS allows only bluetooth keyboards to access. It worked very well, which means I can transfer the amount of a breath to keyboard events to iOS device via bluetooth. The Auduino calculates the amount of one breath and maps the value in the levels of 1 to 10. Each level respectively corresponds to a designated key character from 'a' to 'j' in order to send it to iOS device.

In terms of fabrication, I started to think about the scale of the beak. I sketched the shape of the penguin beak on the paper and cut them to measure the size. And then I translated it to digital sketch using Rhino to design a 3D model. I used MakerBot Replicator2 to 3D-print the model to see how the model comes out. I could get the final version through a couple of iterations. Finally, I ordered a professional production from NYU Advanced Media Studio (AMS), professional services in high-quality digital printing and scanning.