In the hands of brainy bio-med students, the technology that makes the Wii remote tick is destined for greater things, CPR training. "Not to put too fine a point on it, even professionals do it pretty miserably," says Dr. Greg Walcott, M.D.
Specifically, people have a hard time performing compressions at an effective pace and depth. "People will go anywhere from 60 to 150 times a minute, and will go anywhere from half-an-inch, three-quarters of an inch, all the way to two-and-a-half, three inches deep," says Walcott.
But more user-friendly training may be at hand, thanks to students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "It's going to be very easy to use. All you need is a computer and the Wii remote," says James McKee, a student.
Students wrote software to receive real-time data from the Wii-mote during compression. "So you can see here he's going around 1.7 inches, and the target rate is two inches, or one-and-a-half to two inches. So he's doing decent staying at 100 beats per minute," says student Zach Clark.
The metronome helps guide the pace, and the depth feedback guides pressure. "Unless you've had previous practice, I don't think most people would know to push that hard. It feels very uncomfortable actually to push two inches down on someone's chest," says James.
The next thing to iron out is home items that can substitute for the mannequin. "We've used anything from beach balls and footballs, that sort of thing. If you take a little bit of air out of them, they're about the right," says Dr. Walcott.
It's next generation CPR training we'll all be game for. Dr. Walcott says this project is supported by funding from the American Heart Association. He expects the training game will be ready for download later this year, completely free of charge.