'Guts Game' makes play using ingestible sensors

November 21, 2018 //By Rich Pell
'Guts Game' makes play using ingestible sensors
Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Melbourne, Australia) have designed a two-player game using ingestible sensors where the players play against each other by causing changes in their gut.

Players of the "Guts Game" must complete a variety of tasks, each of which requires the players to change their own body temperature as measured by the swallowable sensor. While there are already many ingestible sensors on the market that can measure a user's body temperature, pH value, pressure, or serve as endoscopy tools for medical purposes, the researchers say they designed the game in order to explore the potential of such sensors for game designers.

"We can see these devices might become more and more common in the medical field," Zhuying Li, a Ph.D. candidate at RMIT University, told Digital Trends . "However, some people might feel uncomfortable to ingest a foreign object. We believe games [based] around sensors can motivate patients to use the sensor and enhance the overall experience of the treatment. Our game shows an opportunity to make pill-taking interesting."

Such sensors, say the researchers, may create novel bodily experiences for players when it comes to digital games. In the case of the "Guts Game," players start by each swallowing a CorTemp sensor , which wirelessly transmits a user's core body temperature as it travels through their digestive tract.

The goal of the game is to rid their body of a virtual parasite within 24 to 36 hours by performing real actions that can affect body temperature, such as drinking hot or cold drinks, eating sweat-inducing spicy food, exercising, and more. The game is finished when the sensor is excreted, at which point the winner is the player who has accumulated the most points.

Through a study of the game that interviewed players about their experience, the researchers derived four design themes: Bodily Awareness, Human-Computer Integration, Agency (i.e., the level of control that the player perceives to have in a game), and Uncomfortableness. They then used the four themes to articulate a set of design strategies that they say designers can consider when aiming to develop


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