Helping children + their whānau stay calm in a
distressing time

Starship Foundation and ASB Bank
The Opportunity

Every year 34,000 children come to the Starship children’s emergency department. For many of them, the assessment area and waiting room is where the patient journey starts. Starship and ASB wanted RUSH to help create new ways to enhance the experience for children, their families and the staff of the emergency department.

ASB Starship Animal Check Ups Nurse and a child
The Process

A human-centred design approach was used to empathise, ideate and prototype two impactful experiences. We observed behaviour and talked to play specialists and nurses to understand different strategies for reducing anxiety.

We worked closely with our creative partners, the Starship team and with young users to continuously prototype and test elements of the experience. We wanted to ensure visitors found them engaging, calming and fun.

The Solution

We created two different experiences, both designed for quite different purposes.

Starship Animal Checkups uses a wall of animal characters to create short moments of fun with the goal of calming and entertaining children while using sensors and computer vision to take readings: they imitate the animals while the system measures height, track smiles, and picks up heart rate and temperature.


Here’s our final set of Animal doctors, all with their own set of animations to make the children smile.

Starship animals

The Magic Forest uses computer vision to track user interaction. It teaches the user that by staying calm and slowing their movements they will attract birds and flowers to interact with. If the user makes any rapid movements, the birds and flowers are scared off.

We constantly tested the different experiences and visualizations of flowers and birds with different children and families to ensure they found them entertaining, fun and calming.

Starship - sketches
Starship - bird 3d mesh
The Impact

This is a world first for a hospital waiting room, merging creative craft with world class interactive technology to calm nervous patients and their whānau.

Our project KPI was to
create smiles
in what is often a distressing situation. A year after installation and Starship describe a much more patient-friendly experience and a huge improvement for staff.

Starship - happy clients
What our client says
“The unique ‘Starship Animal Check-Ups’ and ‘Magic Forest’ spaces are the result of a truly collaborative effort between ASB, the Starship Foundation, Starship staff and patients.”
Vittoria Shortt

Services delivered
  • Observational studies
  • Customer Interviewing
  • Ideation
  • Low + High fidelity Prototyping
  • Experience mapping
  • Animation and illustration
  • UX design
  • UI design
  • Systems architecture
  • Machine learning
  • Cloud integration
  • Front end build
  • Backend build
  • Application Support
  • Data analysis
  • Product iteration

Awards & recognition
Best awards - Interactive - Purple
Best awards - Interactive - Purple
Best Awards - Interactive - Gold
Best Awards - Interactive - Gold
Best Awards - User Experience - Gold
Best Awards - User Experience - Gold
Best Awards - Spatial - Silver
Best Awards - Spatial - Silver
Good Design Award - Social Impact
Good Design Award - Social Impact