Client: BC Children's Hospital
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Completion date: 2017
Hanna Cho, Producer
Vinicius Bom, Project Manager
Jan Beringer, Experience Lead
Nida Fatima, Animation Lead
Luyi Wang, Interactive Designer
Alex Greenberg, Animator
Peter Doudkine, Developer
Mike Hunter, Developer
Annette Ridenour, Project Partner
The Virtual Aquarium for the BC Children's Hospital is an impressive 9-screen interactive digital art installation that leverages gesture technology and embodied cognition to guide visitors through three marine environments. A permanent interactive featured in the emergency department waiting room, the multi-user experience follows a leatherback turtle as it swims through tropical seas, the BC coast, and a bioluminescent cave. Users interact by collecting seashells, popping colourful bioluminescent clusters, and more. Captivating and beautiful, this project's aim was to provide a positive distraction to engage users' curiosity, encourage calm, and restore a sense of control through experiential and healing play.
The interactive artwork in this project was central to transporting users away from the stress and anxiety of their immediate (emergency care) surroundings, and enable children to immerse themselves in an exploratory journey that calms and delights.
Highly visual and interactive, this installation's goals included:
Improving the Patient Experience - a delightful distraction that inspires curiosity, wonder, as well as provide a unique yet non-disruptive outlet for patients and those waiting with them.
Calm & Healing Environments - the visual approach and modes of engagement for the project aim to help staff promote a sense of positivity and calm in an otherwise stressful environment.
Visual Wow/Delighting Visitors - a beautiful, visually rich, and interactive will give patients and their families something positive to remember from their visit to the ED.
Safety and Hygiene - the project design accounts for the maintenance/operational priorities of hospital staff, and aims to minimize the spread of germs.
The project was a collaborative effort including Aesthetics (design partner/overall art commission lead), the BC Children's Hospital Foundation (client), and BC Children's Hospital Youth Advisory and Clinical Staff (stakeholders/end users).
At the outset of the project, NGX engaged in a Discovery Phase workshop with the Foundation and members of the Youth Advisory and clinical staff, in order to create an experiential brief for the exhibit. Curiosity, variety, a high degree of interactivity and delight, were all identified as key elements of the experience, and informed the artistic approach and wide range of visual marine environments. Following this workshop, NGX and BCCH's Foundation and clinical staff, refined the creative approach further via a follow up Planning workshop and iterative design discussions with Aesthetics, in which the marine journey and visual approach were able to align conceptually with a broader healing art therapy approach being applied throughout the care facility.
Extensive user feedback through testing and interviews took place during Alpha, Beta, and Final versions of the software, in order to determine visual elements, cues, and ways of ensuring the visual environments created for the installation, fulfilled the project goals of creating a beautiful, calming, and immersive environment.
This project represents an exciting convergence of interactive art, technology, and new approaches to health-based art therapy. In addition to providing new opportunities for providing creative release and distraction through interaction, this exhibit also provides an unique opportunity to yield data insights via the embedded user data tracking system we built in. A key constraint of the experience was meeting the stringent safety, hygiene, technical, and new construction requirements of the hospital.