Bubble Beats trainer

Interactive training for hand hygiene
Bubble Beats Trainer

The Bubble Beats Trainer is a learning game that teaches players proper hand washing technique. This project was built with awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Learn all the World Health Organization (WHO) steps for training in effective hand hygiene technique. Learn how to wash your hands as healthcare workers do.

Screenshot of the title screen of Bubble Beats, the interactive hand hygiene trainer. The Bubble Beats mascot leans against a large bubble with the words, Bubble Beats, written across it.

Bubble Beats

Interactive training in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) hand washing steps.

Screenshot of one of the scrub tracks in Bubble Beats. A scrub track is a series of bubbles laid out along a pattern that the player must trace in order to animate the hands in scrubbing action. In this way, players can control the 3D hands using a flat screen interface. The screenshot shows a pair of hands performing the World Health Organization scrub step to clean the back of the right hand.

Get Scrubbing

Scrubbing each step provides more habit-forming fun than popping bubble wrap.

Ultraviolet illumination in the game turns the world purple. More importantly, it allows the player to see which areas of the hands still need to be cleaned, because germs show up as fluorescent dots.

UV Inspection

Check your progress in the game with virtual ultraviolet (UV) inspection. Germs show up as fluorescent spots.

This screenshot of the Bubble Beats trainer shows the 12 World Health Organization scrub steps as symbols arrayed around the sink. Players may select a symbol to begin that scrub step.

All W.H.O. Steps

Bubble Beats provides realistic training that translates into better hand washing at the sink.


Tracing a symbol for the thumb unlocks that scrub step.

In Bubble Beats, players position the hands for each scrub step by tracing a symbol on the touchscreen interface. This screenshot shows the right hand moving closer to the left, and beginning to curl the fingers around the left thumb.


The hands move to the correct position for scrubbing.

Bubble Beats exercises all 12 scrub steps of the World Health Organization's hand hygiene training. In this image, the hands are in position for the left thumb scrub step. A Scrub Track shaped like the letter 'C' will be used to move the hands through the proper scrubbing motion. Players trace their fingers along the scrub track using a touchscreen interface. As they pass through a series of bubbles laid out on the track, these bubbles pop, and the player earns points.


Trace along the scrub track to pop the bubbles and move the hands.

Players in Bubble Beats can choose which level to play. Each level has different a different song and unique scrub challenges.

27 Songs

Each level has a different song. Choose from many musical genres from blues, big band, samba, ska, and many others.

Screenshot of the Bubble Beats shop, where players can purchase virtual goods to place in the game. Players earn coins by completing levels in the game. In turn, these coins can be used to purchase custom skins for the hands portrayed in the game, or items that can be placed on the countertop.


Buy items in the store with the coins you earn from completing each level.

This screenshot of the Customize screen for Bubble Beats shows several items in the players inventory (an Emergency Medical Technician's coffee mug, a red racing rubber duck, a daruma, and others). These items may be placed in the game to customize the game environment.


Place the items you purchased, to make the world your own.

Unlock all levels

As a reward for reading this far down the page we will share with you a hidden trick:
tap 10 times in the lower left corner of the Choose Level page, and you will unlock all levels for the Bubble Beats handwashing trainer.

Catalog of Scrub Tracks

Most patterns are geometric shapes. But on higher levels, the upper- and lower-case letters of the Greek alphabet appear. Public health officials often use these letters to denote new strains of a virus or bacteria. The virus that causes COVID-19 went through several variants as the pandemic evolved, most famously the Delta and Omicron variants.

[Kiyoshi] Shiga Scrub Tracks

On Level 27, two Japanese characters appear: 志賀. These characters make up the surname of Kiyoshi Shiga (志賀 潔), the world-famous physician and bacteriologist, who discovered the bacteria responsible for dysentery. The organism was named Shigella dysenteriae to honor his discovery. Dysentery is easily spread through poor hand hygiene.

Bonus points in the game if you draw these characters in the correct stroke order!

A virtual trainer with high-fidelity to the task

realistic handwashing training

To test whether the training works, we perform an external assay of handwashing proficiency. The scrubbing motions in the trainer are tightly tied to those same motions performed in real life.

Map of the hand, with the left thumb highlighted, and a line connecting this area to the scrub move that cleans it.