Interaction with the shape-changing interface can be accomplished by utilising an NFC wristband (left) and an NFC reader mounted at the back of the interface (right)

User interface design for additional clinical data retrievable on a PDA, consisting of the patient EMR and personal dashboard.

Ambient display for hospital environments

Hospital environments are ranked as one of the most stressful contemporary work environments for their employees, and this especially concerns nurses. One of the core problems comprises the notion that the current technology adopted in hospitals does not support the mobile nature of medical work and the complex work environment, in which people and information are distributed. The employment of inadequate technology and the strenuous access to information results in a decrease in efficiency regarding the fulfilment of medical tasks, and puts a strain on the attention of the medical personnel. This project proposes a solution to the aforementioned problems through the design of ambient displays that inform the medical personnel with the health statuses of patients, whilst requiring minimal allocation of attention. The ambient displays concede a hierarchy of information, where the most essential information encompasses an overview of patients’ vital signs. Data regarding the vital signs are measured by biometric sensors and are embodied by shape-changing interfaces, of which the ambient displays consist. User-authentication permits the medical personnel to access a deeper layer within the hierarchy of information, entailing clinical data such as patient EMRs, after gesture-based interaction with the ambient display. The additional clinical information is retrieved on the user’s PDA, and can subsequently be viewed in more detail, or modified at any place within the hospital.

In this project, prototypes of shape-changing interfaces were designed and evaluated in a hospital environment. The evaluation was focused on the interaction design and user-experience of the shape-changing interface, the capabilities of the ambient displays to inform users through peripheral awareness, as well as the remote communication between patient and healthcare professional through biometric data. A dual-task experiment, among others, was designed to evaluate the shape-changing interface, and indicated that the required attention allocated for the acquisition of information from the shape-changing interface was minimal. The interaction with the ambient display, as well as with the PDA when accessing additional clinical data, was deemed intuitive, yet comprised a short learning curve. Furthermore, the evaluations in situ pointed out that for optimised communication through the ambient displays, an overview of the health statuses of approximately eight patients should be displayed, and placed in the corridors of the hospital ward.

Koelemeijer, D. (2016) The Design and Evaluation of Ambient Displays in a Hospital Environment. MUEP.