Jihyun Lee

//! creative technologist
about work code

Flying Penguin

New York, NY

Flying Penguin is a mobile game that encourages children with asthma between the ages of 5 and 8 to practice breathing techniques. The goal of this game is to make an animated skiing penguin jump as far as possible by blowing on the beak whistle with a single strong breath.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ survery 2012, over 10 million U.S. children under age 18 (14%) have ever been diagnosed with asthma; 6.8 million children still have asthma (9%). Spirometer is used to encourage deep breathing exercises and measures the inspiratory capacity of the lungs but it is not kid-friendly. So breathing specialists, especially for asthma and children, use mimic techniques for kids – what they are familiar with and play with, for example blowing bubbles, birthday cakes, dandelion or growing balloons.

When a child blows on the penguin beak whistle, a microphone inside the beak picks up the volume every moment. And the Arduino calculates the amount of a single breath and maps the value in the levels of 1 to 10. Since iOS allows only bluethooth keyboards to access, I translate the levels to key characters from ‘A’ to ‘J’. Depending on the amount of a breath, the penguin gets accelerated while sliding along the ski slope and jumps over few or many many trees. So the distance record can indicate his/her asthma conditions. Doctors can customize the game for each patient based on their age, gender, race, etc. It’s like doctors prescribe a gameplay as a medication.

As Fred Roger notes, “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning”, Flying Penguin introduces children to breathing exercises to increase their lung capacity in a fun, interactive, drug-free way. Also, it leads to a pathway to help them learn how to self-manage their asthma.


openFrameworks, Xcode, iOS, Box2d, Arduino, Bluetooth, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects