Ground-Breaking Innovation for Starship

7th May 2018

Every year 34,000 children come to the Starship children’s emergency department. The assessment area and waiting room is where the patient journey starts for many of these children.

Starship & ASB engaged RUSH to help create new ways to enhance the experience for both children, parents and the staff of the emergency department, helping calm children and prepare them for treatment, as well as create a more accommodating space for patient comfort and flow.

RUSH designed and developed two different experiences with help from their friends Watermark creative and Bootleg Design…

‘The Starship Animal Check-ups’ space is a wall of frames featuring different characters to take children through check-up experiences familiarising them with the processes they will soon undertake with the clinical team. The interactive Animal characters such as lions teach children to open their mouths wide, meerkats demonstrate different heart rates and blowfish help to coach different breathing rhythms. All experiences are controlled by RUSH proprietary sensors and interactive computer vision-based tracking system.

‘The Magic Forest’ is an avatar scene experience creating a calming space to relax and enjoy quiet time. In this space, virtual birds and flowers react to the child’s movements; move slowly and the flowers and birds will come towards visitors, move too quickly and they will be scared off.

The creative process involved behaviour observation, talking to play specialist and nurses, and understanding the different behavioral strategies to reduce anxiety in order to create a calm, fun environment. A human-centered design approach was used to empathise, ideate and prototype the experiences to ensure they had a biggest impact on our different audiences.

The space introduces a New Zealand hospital-first with world class interactive technology, created in consultation with hospital staff and young patients, to calm nervous patients and their whānau at what is often a difficult time. This includes two unique interactive areas: ‘The Starship Animal Check-ups’ and ‘The Magic Forest’.

RUSH creative director Terry Williams-Willcock said “the project combined a range of technologies and sensors to create gamified fun to help, in what was often a stressful time for families.”

“It was magical seeing the difference the experiences made. When children and parents walked into the Magic Forest they would immediately start playing together and calming down.”
“Our project KPI was to create smiles, in, what is a distressing situation, our Computer Vision technology is continuously tracking the amount of smiles and the duration so we know if we are having the impact we designed for.”

Speaking to the technology CTO and Founder at RUSH, Danu Abeysuriya highlights the use of a mix of sensors in the experiences such as custom temperature and heart-rate sensors. He also reiterated the heavy reliance on computer vision and machine learning, namely custom facial landmark detection and tracking, combined with the Microsoft Kinect for depth sensing and full body skeletal tracking.

“All the animations are rendered in beautiful real-time 3D using a mix of custom graphics shaders for the Magic Forest and fluid 2D spline animation for the Animal Check-up wall.”

Dr Mike Shepherd, Director – Starship Medical and Community, says: “The refurbishment means a better experience for our patients and their families and a more effective work space for our staff.”

Starship’s new children’s emergency department assessment and waiting area was officially revealed at an event at Starship Thursday morning.

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