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Making It

Musical Wall Makes Children’s Hospital A Little Less Sucktastic

Here’s what happens when a leading media studio takes on a hospital waiting room.

If you’ve spent any time in a hospital, you know that the environment doesn’t feel so conducive to healing. Here you have someone who’s very sick, and they’re surrounded by green lighting, constant beeping, the stench of ammonia, and bright biohazard signs. For an adult it’s horrible, but for a child? It must be horrifying.

Yet at Montreal’s CHU Ste-Justine Hospital, there’s at least one spot where being in the hospital isn’t so bad. It’s a colorful, interactive music wall by Moment Factory—a multimedia company that collaborates with artists like Madonna, MIA, and Arcade Fire. Here, without any ability to read sheet music, a child can draw shapes on a projected screen that will play back as a melody.

"The goal was to give comfort to the kids (and their parents, by extension) who are waiting at the hospital," Producer Lydia Brown and Multimedia Director Chantale Grenon tell Co.Design. "The colors and the sounds are chosen to please them, to bring them into a creative mindset and a beautiful universe."

In an environment where beige and green rule supreme, Moment Factory planted a rainbow-colored projection system that was straight out of their R&D department. A riff on the interactive whiteboard, a projector shines a blank canvas for notes on a grey backdrop, while a camera tracks the position of a user’s finger. It’s easy to understand the premise: Draw whatever you want to play. But the accessible UI is filled with Easter eggs to reward exploration.

"The more you play with it the more you discover things," the team writes. "For example: You can draw lines that become melodies by moving your hand up and down and left to right; you can replay your melody by retouching your colored-line; you can connect a line to create a shape. … And the music follows. … This is a lot of fun." I bet it is. And as much as I enjoyed Arcade Fire’s stage setup in concert, I must say, suddenly it all feels a bit like paying the bills to support the more important side projects.

[Hat tip: The Creators Project]

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