UT Austin continues to lead the way in pioneering research that addresses critical societal needs, exemplified by the work of Dr. Tanya Hutter and her team. The project aims to transform respiratory health through a smart device that incorporates advanced sensors and a user-friendly design, with interactive breathing training capabilities.

In collaboration with Dr. Hutter, Dr. Koonj A. Shah, and graduate students Joshua B. Lu and Nirmalay Barua, Professor David (D.S.) Cohen led the development of a video game prototype with his students in the "Games For Good" course within the College of Fine Arts, Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologists. This course aims to leverage game design techniques and technology to advance research in health and well-being.

The gaming aspect of the project adheres to methodologies, concepts, and testing procedures to craft engaging experiences tailored to the needs of users who can benefit from breathing exercises.

The outcome is a progressive, user-centric experience that allows patients to use the device apparatus to control a character-driven gaming experience, The Adventures of Ranger Raccoon. By adhering to a regimen of breathing exercises prescribed by their clinicians, players assume control of Ranger Raccoon, navigating through the National Park as they complete challenges and mini-games, all controlled through breathing exercises. 

The concept behind the experience design is to shift the user's focus away from daunting breathing exercises, and into an entertainment goal-oriented experience using the same techniques commercial video games use to drive engagement and player habits and replayability. Instead of users considering the device as a daily activity they have to engage in for better health, they perceive it as a game controller and as their breathing strength improves, they can reach higher ratings in the game. 

This multi-disciplinary work between Engineering, Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologists, and Dell Medical School, was showcased during the Inside-Out event on April 18th.  Inside Out is the College of Fine Arts, School of Design and Creative Technologies Department of Arts and Entertainment Technology's 2024 student showcase. A multi-floor adventure featured student-developed interactive and immersive experiences, projection mapping, music, animation, video games and more, plus groundbreaking demos of new technologies in the AET Lab for Immersive Media.