Idealog's Most Innovative for Best Collaboration: ASB, Rush and Starship Hospital

The winner of Idealog's Most Innovative special category Best Collaboration is ASB, Rush and Starship Hospital. With about 34,000 children visiting Starship Children’s Emergency Department every year, one of the first areas they encounter is the waiting room. Anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time in such rooms knows just how disheartening such spaces can be for anxious parents and unwell kids alike.

But that’s all changed, at Starship at least. A collaborative partnership between Rush Digital, ASB and The Starship foundation has seen the creation of new waiting room environment at the hospital that helps calm children and prepare them for treatment.

ASB and its customers raised more than $1 million to fund the project, and Rush Digital got to work designing and developing the experiences in collaboration with the Starship children’s emergency department staff, young patients and ASB. The result of the six-month project is a New Zealand hospital interactive tech first.

Created by Rush Digital, two distinct design features now define the space – the “Starship Animal Check-ups”, 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 and the “Magic Forest”, a spectacular Avatar-like scene which creates a calming space to relax and enjoy quiet time.

The creative process involved behaviour observation, talking to play specialists and nurses, and understanding the different behavioural strategies used to reduce anxiety and create a calm, fun environment in such spaces. A human-centred design approach was used to empathise, ideate and prototype the experiences to ensure they had a biggest impact on the different stakeholders visiting the waiting rooms.

Now up and running, the environment uses a mix of sensors – such as custom temperature and heart-rate sensors – and relies heavily 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.

“This collaboration was a melting pot of people, priorities and objectives,” Rush Digital says. “We were very considerate of all parties including ASB, ADHB and Starship, so when they engaged Rush to help ideate and execute the initiative to improve the experience at Starship we also had to consider all of the staff, patients and stakeholders.”  

The initiative stands out as a world class interactive technology, created in consultation with hospital staff and young patients, to calm nervous patients and their whānau at what is often one of the most difficult times of their lives.

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