This immersive technology turns hospitals into less stressful places

Fast Company
April 19, 2021

There is qual­i­ty sound, and there is noise. Sad­ly, in our day-to-day lives, we have way too much of the lat­ter. Exces­sive noise can cause sev­er­al short- and long-term health prob­lems, such as sleep dis­tur­bance, car­dio­vas­cu­lar effects, poor­er work and school per­for­mance, and the most obvi­ous risk: hear­ing impair­ment. Noise has emerged as a lead­ing envi­ron­men­tal nui­sance in the World Health Organization’s Euro­pean region, and the num­ber of pub­lic com­plaints about exces­sive noise is grow­ing. Some groups are more vul­ner­a­ble to noise, like chil­dren and chron­i­cal­ly ill patients.

A new Bay Area start­up called Spa­tial wants to help make the sound around us into a more reward­ing expe­ri­ence. Last month, it announced a unique port­fo­lio of prod­ucts focused on cre­at­ing immer­sive and dynam­ic audio expe­ri­ences for pub­lic spaces. From cre­ation to deploy­ment, Spa­tial (not to be con­fused with Spa­tial the aug­ment­ed real­i­ty com­pa­ny), says its solu­tion is unique because it does not require pro­pri­etary and cost­ly equip­ment to cre­ate and deploy sound­scapes. The pro­gram can run on a Lin­ux machine or a Mac Mini, out­put sound to any speak­er, and can be con­trolled via a mobile app.

In its prod­uct launch, Spa­tial empha­sized its poten­tial for use in pub­lic spaces such as muse­ums, hotels, and amuse­ment parks. But I was most inter­est­ed in anoth­er use case: well-being.

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