Service Design | 2017

Coda: The Palliative Care Sensory Therapy Clinic

How can we design a spatially aware sensory clinic to aid palliative care patients?


For our project, we interviewed hospice nurses to develop the persona of Ben, a palliative care patient looking for a quiet space for reflection after months of hospitalization.

Proposed solution

Given the growing size of the palliative care market and the relatively little innovation in this space, we envisioned Coda to be a sanctuary in palliative care spaces. It can be rapidly deployable in a variety of spaces and uses sensory inputs to soothe patients.

Channel choreography

The experience for the user will be a combination of pre-determined states (e.g. color temperatures promoting lower, calmer physiological activity) and user-determined states (e.g. interacting with the visuals). Using the Leap Motion hand motion detector, a bedridden patient with limited mobility will still be able to impact the entire environment.

Interactivity and Feedback

For our prototype, we used Arduino's pulse sensor for basic biometric monitoring and Leap Motion hand sensors to control the projections in Unity.

Consonant sound development

All of the sounds we played in the prototype were custom developed as consonant chords with a basic chord progression to create a neutral, soothing tone. To avoid triggering any specific memories, we steered away from any preset songs, and instead generate tones as the user moves and interacts with the Leap Motion sensor.

LED/sound set-up

For our prototype, we needed to connect the Leap Motion hand sensor input to control both the projected visuals in Unity and the generated sounds in Arduino. The same Arduino set-up also controlled the LEDs and fiberoptic lights in the Coda room, which required a good deal of electrical configuration.

Arduino-powered sound, lights, and biometrics

Within the five week confine of the project, we set up a functioning pulse monitor that could affect the sounds and lights being displayed in the room. Depending on user testing and preferences, we could freely adjust the sounds and lights to be reactive to the user's heart rate, helping to stabilize the user's physiological activity.

Building the prototype

For our final review, we built a 5' x 8' room using plywood and black foam board that we could run the lights through. We set up surround sound speakers and projectors inside the space, creating a totally encapsulating experience for our guests.