Eindhoven University of Technology: ‘Vomit app’ to contain the spread of virus in the Efteling

It is not only the glutton Holle Bolle Gijs who gets nauseous from the paper thrown at him: every day the Efteling amusement park has to deal with visitors who, after a ride on one of the roller coasters, suffer from stomach and intestinal complaints until they vomit. Because vomit accelerates the spread of viruses, the park has now conducted tests together with Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and drawn up a so-called ‘vomit protocol’. The Efteling app now indicates with color codes when it is safe to get into a wild ride.

TU/e tested, among other things, which type of food causes vomiting for certain rides. For this purpose, researchers used a gyrospace: an attribute that consists of three rings that move independently of each other. Twenty test subjects (children and adults) turned in all directions, from forwards to backwards and even upside down. “We already do a lot with accelerations in our research group. Normally we apply them to our machines but now it’s the turn of people,” explains PhD researcher Wouter Kuijpers.

The test subjects wore a special suit that allows the effect of food in combination with G-forces in the rides to be tested. Beforehand, the participants ate various types of food, from candyfloss to chocolate and French fries with a big blob of mayonnaise. Richard Lopata, professor of biomedical engineering: “This allowed us to determine which movements on a roller coaster, in combination with certain types of food or candy, lead to nausea and vomiting.” The results show that it is, for example, very unwise to drink milkshakes or eat French fries just before going into wild rides like roller coasters. Indeed, the chances of vomit raining down like a passing shower during a ride are then significantly higher.

Photo: Efteling
According to the Efteling, research by Maurice de Hond confirms that vomit flying around can cause many symptoms. To prevent contamination, the park has therefore drawn up guidelines under the so-called VOMIT protocol. This means that the hand scanner that is already in use in the park has been expanded: the stomach contents of visitors – both volume and composition – can be scanned within seconds. The results are sent directly to the Efteling app on the smartphone. This (medical) data is destroyed after one day.

With handy color codes, visitors can immediately see where they stand: green means it is safe to get on a ride while red means it is better to wait. A countdown timer then tells visitors when they can board the roller coaster again without (stomach) problems. The Efteling emphasizes that this concerns advice; visitors ultimately decide for themselves whether they want to run the risk of nausea or not. Moreover, there is the possibility to empty one’s stomach contents in specially equipped VOMIT areas before taking a seat in the Python or the Baron.

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