Augmented Graphics for Healthcare Workspaces


We have explored design research that combines environmental graphics with Augmented Reality (AR) technologies to create dynamic information spaces for a healthcare environment, A number of visual prototypes were developed to test if these combinations could be used to engagingly communicate personal wellbeing messages to healthcare professionals.

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  • Healthcare employees are often overburdened with job demands, which can adversely affect both their physical and psychological health and ultimately the quality of patient care delivery. Following the pandemic, the mental health and wellbeing of employees have become even more of a priority. In a busy healthcare workplace, it is easy to forget to look after your personal wellbeing. This design research explores how personal healthcare messages can be embedded into the work environment through engaging and informative reminders, through novel combinations of AR technologies and the interior design of a healthcare workplace such as a hospital or a clinic.

  • We created 3 design experiments: A wall-sized illustration combined with projected AR content that could be experienced in a building lobby by people waiting for a lift. A second prototype was based in an office kitchen and used everyday objects (e.g., a jug and a cup) to convey messages. Through a combination of a handheld mobile device and a set of printed icons, the final prototype encouraged employees to take microbreaks at their desks. The overarching concept of the combination of AR content with visual imagery was to explore if this approach could effectively share information without increasing cognitive load.

  • Through a series of user-centred research activities, healthcare employees and members of the public provided positive feedback, describing the prototypes as novel, engaging and innovative. The prototypes were seen to have the potential to effectively communicate wellness messages in the work environment and serve as a channel for sharing messages and for stimulating conversations amongst colleagues. The prototypes were displayed in an Open Lab at the Museum of Discovery (MOD), Adelaide and were open to the public for two weeks. During this time, research was carried out with participants and a survey collecting data from the general public was used.

  • Our design exploratory involves three stages: Discovery, Prototyping and Testing. The discovery stage provided valuable insights into participants' work experiences and factors that influence their workplace wellbeing. The analysis highlighted the importance of collaboration among employees, designers and leaders to create effective interventions that leverage physical workplace design within a specific context. Our prototypes employed design fiction that looked beyond the conventional forms of healthcare messaging. Each fiction described how these prototypes could be useful to employees in relation to their work experience in a specific context. We then developed personas to address each prototype and user experience mappings were used to build a common understanding of how these prototypes might benefit each persona. Iterative mind maps using word clouds further explored AR content, developing meaningful concepts and interpretations. Interesting outcomes from the research showed how AR projections might be used to limit physical contact with surfaces (useful for infection control). The approach of using personal objects that employees can relate to, was seen to enhance personal and social connectedness within the workplace.