Patient-friendly Spirometer with Feedback Unit

Spiro-Plus is a patent pending pulmonary function testing device that provides patients with interactive feedback. By using "candle" metaphor, Spiro-Plus aims to motivate patients and reduce stress factor in order to increase test efficiency in hospitals.


Pulmonary Function Test:

The Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) has an important role in the diagnosis of respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD. The challenging test measures lung capacity and air flow speed and has to be conducted by a test operator.

 Common spirometers being used in hospitals

Common spirometers being used in hospitals

Asking patients to empty their lungs as fast as they can doesn't work!
Especially with people with chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD, etc. 

  Field Research

Field Research

Insights from the field research:

  First Hand Experience

First Hand Experience

Insights from the first hand experience

The only feedback that patients receive while performing the test is the verbal instructions that the operator gives. These instructions are standardized and all operators are required to prompt them in the same way. Basically, patients are asked to exhale strongly and continuously until the operators stop them. Many patients can't cooperate with operators and tests could not be carried out correctly. According to the observations from the field research there are two main reasons behind the unsuccessful test processes:

  • Patients are already anxious by a variety of complicated reasons, and they don't feel comfortable with the idea of "emptying" their lungs. 

  • Operators' attitudes and personalities have a big impact on patients' cooperation, while some operators are very friendly and motivating, some might be impatient and angry. Therefore operators' feedback is inconsistent and therefore unreliable.

Although it might look like a very simple test from outside, one can only understand how terrifying this experience is by trying it first hand. During his primary field research in hospitals, Berk experienced the Pulmonary Function Testing experience first hand so that he could see the test from the eyes of patients. According to his finding, some of the reasons that cause anxiety are:

  • The difficulty and complexity of the instructions.

  • The unfamiliar devices and interfaces.

  • Not knowing until when to keep exhaling.



Designing a Pulmonary Function Test experience that feels
as simple and motivating as blowing out birthday candles.


Ideation sketches

After defining the problem and revealing the opportunity, Berk Ilhan explored ideas to lead a better experience for the patients and operators of the Pulmonary Function Test. By using metaphors and familiar behaviors Berk generated a number of different concept ideas. The overarching goals of the ideas were:

  • To provide patients with a task that they are familiar with such as blowing a balloon, or candle.

  • To provide patients with a clear and easy-to-understand interface that gives feedback.

  • To add a layer of game aspect to motivate the patients to perform the test better.

Prototyping the Experience Through Role-playing

Experience is affected by a number complicated factors. It is not possible to reach a solution by focusing on the artifact. In order to test and iterate the concepts, it is essential to act them out with people. Thus, Berk made many mock-ups and created a setting in the studio that is similar to a standard Pulmonary Function Test room to test the ideas in a scenario that includes role-playing the operator and patient.

Spiro-Plus uses gamification in order to shift the focus of the patient from their lungs to an external and challenging game. To achieve this game, Spiro-Plus uses the analogy of birthday cake candles. The challenge is simple: to blow out all the LED candles of the product with one deep breath. Referencing this familiar and happy experience memory, Spiro-Plus encourages the patients and motivates them to perform the test correctly.

Iterating the form with mock-ups and CAD sketches

Deciding on the candle idea, different form opportunities were explored by mock-ups and CAD sketching. The goal of this phase was to reach an ideal form and design language for the experience. 

Finalizing  the Concept

Through an intensive form and usability study, Spiro-Plus concept reached to a final shape. An appearance model was 3D printed and spray painted to display. The interactive LED candle lights were demonstrated by placing a time based electronic circuit inside of the prototype body.

final prototype
 Flow measuring  hand piece

Flow measuring  hand piece

 Placing the disposable mouth piece

Placing the disposable mouth piece

Usage Scenario

Technical Details

Exploded view of the Feedback Unit

Exploded view of the Hand Piece

A Humane Solution: Spiro-Plus 

Spiro-Plus re-frames the user interaction of pulmonary function testing. Current products communicate only with the test operators, who then give feedback to the patients. Spiro-Plus cares for both the patient and the operator as two different users of the product. Patients are given very simple and easy to understand feedback, through the candles, and operators are given a comprehensive interface in which they can track all of the necessary information related to the test.


Spiro-Plus project was conducted by Berk Ilhan as graduation project in METU Department of Industrial Design in 2012. The duration of the project was 3 months. External project advisor: Tandem Product Design, Orhan Daybelge


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