Image credit: Orbital Media

The creators of a new AR app hope it will save lives and improve the experience of millions of children suffering from asthma by teaching correct inhaler usage.

MySpira, designed in collaboration between English-based Orbital Media and the University of Suffolk, features Dr Woozo, an AR character who arrives in a rocket to teach children all about asthma.

The app includes eight modules that use AR and gameplay to appeal to the many young asthma sufferers in Britain.

“Asthma affects 5.4 million people in the UK, 1.1 million of whom are children, and costs the NHS £1.1 bn per annum. Our vision was to develop an application to improve educational content which would ultimately cut the number of preventable child deaths," said Peter Brady, CEO of Orbital Media.

Orbital said 93% of asthma sufferers were using their inhalers incorrectly, a view shared by University of Suffolk Professor Mohamed Abdel-Maguid, Dean of the School of Science, Technology and Engineering.

“The instructions on how to use an inhaler correctly for asthmatic children doesn’t appear to be that complex yet millions of children across the globe lose quality of life as a consequence of incorrect use of inhalers," said Abdel-Maguid.

Orbital and the university hope the app, which costs £0.99 to download, will appeal to asthma patients, schools, pharmacists, GP surgeries and hospitals as a more effective way of spreading best practice among children.

Image credit: Orbital Media

A recent study by the University found MySpira rated 26% better than videos and 70% better than leaflets of asthma education among a group of children between 6 and 13 years old.

Orbital and the University called up medical experts when creating the app. Karyn McBride, an asthma nurse, acted as a medical adviser during the design phase.

“A good inhaler technique significantly cuts the risk of having an asthma attack – if your technique isn’t correct, you might not be getting the full dose of medicine prescribed," she said.

"Common mistakes I see include inadequate shaking of canister before inhalation, inhaling too fast or too slowly and not using it at the right angle. I’ve even seen somebody leave the cap on! There is a real
need for better – and modernised – education, so patients, including children, can take control of their asthma.”