Starship Waiting Room

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.


Starship x ASB


Design, build and installation of a world-first hospital waiting room



Health & wellbeing


“The assessment and waiting area is the hub of the Starship children’s emergency department. The refurbishment means a better experience for our patients and their families and a more effective work space for our staff.”

Dr Mike Shepherd


Director, Starship Medical and Community

The project

The intention for the project was to help children and their whānau stay calm in a distressing time. Our project KPI was to create smiles in what is often a distressing situation.

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.


Experience Auditing

Feasibility Validation



UX Design


Technical Validation

Machine Learning

Frontend Development

Backend Development

Cloud / Systems Integration


Children treated per day on average


Donated to Starship by ASB for CED assessment & waiting area

A child stands in front of a prototype of the Starship animal doctors

Test, test, test

The team went through three different fidelity levels of testing. We trialled technology options, sensors, visual displays and vision platforms, including custom temperature and heart-rate sensors, with a heavy reliance on computer vision and machine learning, facial landmark detection and tracking, depth sensing and full body skeletal tracking.

Low-fidelity presentations of the experiences were then implemented to see how children and parents acted and reacted, with high fidelity faked environments then further tested to see it all come together prior to installation.

Children stand in front of a prototype of the Starship animal doctors
“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



Children looking at the Starship animal wall

Starship Animal Checkups

A wall of animal characters create short moments of fun with the goal of calming and entertaining children, while familiarising them with the check-up procedures and processes they may undertake. The lion teaches children to open their mouths wide; the meerkat reads heart rates; the blowfish coaches breathing – all controlled by proprietary sensors and interactive computer vision-based tracking system.

The Magic Forest

Using computer vision, the Magic Forest is a window into an enchanting, tranquil world. As children become calm in the forest, the environment reacts; virtual flowers blossom and are pollinated by virtual birds – with 3D animations rendered in real-time.

The Magic Forest at Starship

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store


▪ GOOD Design Awards 2019 | Gold - Public Good

▪ Best Awards 2018 | Purple Pin, Gold - User Experience, Silver - Optimising

What does better look like?