This startup uses sound to reduce stress for hospital patients and clinicians

What we hear and how we feel are more intertwined than you might think. Last week we shared a story about the healing power of music therapy. This week, we bring you a company taking an innovative spin on the same concept. Spatial, a new Bay Area startup, is tapping into this idea by producing unique soundscapes that focus on creating immersive and dynamic audio experiences for public spaces.

Its product launch highlights how this imaginative solution can be used to heighten people’s experiences in museums, hotels, and amusement parks, but perhaps the most relevant and compelling use after the years we’ve had is its potential to be used to improve well-being.

Spatial believes that immersive sound can be a therapeutic tool for hospitalized patients, their families, and healthcare professionals. The startup partners with the California Institute of the Arts and Reimagine Well, a company that creates immersive experiences for patients with screens and virtual reality headsets.

The students who are enrolled in the spring 2021 iteration of Holzberg and CalArts professor Shannon Scrofano’s course called Healthcare by Design are also helping design calming and restorative experiences for the Santa Clarita Valley facility.

One of these experiences is a tranquility room designed for families who are on the verge of parting with a loved one as an integrated part of the palliative care program. There is also a resiliency room that aims to provide restorative “immersive healing” and “virtual vacation” experiences for hospital staff after the loss of a patient or any especially stressful experiences.

The students created digital platforms that offer images and audio to transport users to soothing environments such as mountains, beaches, and underwater scenes. The experiences were rolled out to 500 hospital rooms through smart TVs, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that the hospitals requested that the experiences be turned into full-blown dedicated spaces.

One of the best aspects of these immersive experiences is how accessible they are. This solution doesn’t require proprietary, and the needed equipment isn’t expensive. The program can be run on a Linux machine or a Mac Mini, be output to any speaker, and then be controlled through a mobile app. The experience can also be taken down and rebuilt in another room at no additional cost.

Spatial is honored to be part of a growing project that strengthens and supports the workers on the frontlines of the Covid-19 crisis, while also providing the patients and families who face death space where the tense hospital environment can melt away. The hope is for more hospitals to employ the impactful and affordable technology that Spatial has developed to respond to the critical needs that emergency workers and grieving families face.

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