ASB Bank and its customers have donated $1 million to Starship children's hospital to create a fun and engaging ED assessment and waiting area.

Starship medical and community director Dr Mike Shepherd said the refurbishment was a much better experience for patients and their families who often spent a lot of time there being assessed or waiting for results.

"We see about 35,000 children a year who are often accompanied by extended whanau, other children and their parents and so managing that flow, keeping the children calm and happy is really critical to our success," he said.

Starship's newly renovated ED assessment and waiting area. Photo / Supplied
Starship's newly renovated ED assessment and waiting area. Photo / Supplied

The interactive technology spaces were created by Rush Digital with help from Watermark Creative, and aimed at calming patients and familiarising them with the tests and procedures they may face at the hospital.


An interactive wall features several different stations where cartoon animals encourage children to test things such as their heart rate and temperature.

The feature uses depth sensors, heat and heart rate sensors and facial recognition with animals mimicking the movements of those standing in front of them.

Sensors were also used to detect how close people were to the wall.

When no one was nearby, the animals would go to sleep, waking up when someone walked past. Facial movements including smiling were also tracked.

Another interactive area features a forest scene creating a calming space for children, with virtual birds, flowers and insects coming out when visitors were quiet and moving slowly.

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

"The brief was initially to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the partnership between ASB and Starship, and to look at the space and come up with an innovative way to help the situation," Williams-Willcock said.

Starship's renovated ED assessment and waiting area. Photo / supplied
Starship's renovated ED assessment and waiting area. Photo / supplied

"One of the KPIs was around using facial recognition technology to detect smiles and record all the different smiles and length of smile so we can report that back month on month," he said.


ASB chief executive Vittoria Shortt said the plan was to take away as much of the anxiety as possible in what could often be a scary experience.

"We've been partnering with Starship for over 25 years so this felt like a wonderful opportunity to do something special to mark that, and I think it really draws on our heritage of deep roots within the community but also our love of innovation and all things digital."