The World of Man Made

Cooper Hewitt Design Museum

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A Side: Current State, Alarm Fatigue
Man Made Music was commissioned by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum to create an interactive and visceral installation for their major exhibition, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision. Our installation, Alarm Fatigue, takes a look at the detrimental effects of alarms as they currently exist in hospital environments and contrasts this with an artistic interpretation of an idealized future soundscape.
B Side: Idealized Future State
Man Made Music was commissioned by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum to create an interactive and visceral installation for their major exhibition, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision. Our installation, Alarm Fatigue, takes a look at the detrimental effects of alarms as they currently exist in hospital environments and contrasts this with an artistic interpretation of an idealized future soundscape.

The Big Picture

Man Made Music partnered with The Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum for their 2018 exhibition, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision. The exhibit invites visitors to activate all their senses as they experience how space, materials, sound, and light affect the mind and body. The exhibition consists of vivid, interactive installations that immerse attendees in practical, innovative, and exploratory product displays available to see, touch, hear, and smell. As part of the Senses exhibition, Man Made Music created a visceral sonic experience on the dangerous reality of alarm fatigue in modern hospitals.

The Challenge

Dive Deeper

For the last 10 years, alarm related hazards have ranked in the top 5 ECRI Health Technology Hazards. When alarms are screaming for attention every minute of the day–often for minor, non-emergency issues–doctors and nurses can’t keep track of the ones that are really important and become desensitized to the din. The added stress of the hospital’s noise makes sick people sicker.

As part of our collaboration with the Cooper Hewitt for our installation, we sought to create awareness and present a solution to the issue of alarm fatigue: the desensitization of medical staff to critical alarms and the negative affect of patient quality of life due solely to the sheer number of biomedical alarms in medical facilities.

The Approach

Our Vision

In the exhibit, Man Made Music explores a potential solve to these critical issues, presenting two recordings side by side. One is a modern-day scenario, with an overwhelming and cacophonous healthcare soundscape. The second a harmonizing alternative idealized future sonic environment for hospitals and medical facilities. The future state track contains a sonic diagnosis of patient vitals (Heart Rate, Blood Pressure and Blood Oxygen Level) as well as ambient music curated to have a maximally calming and de-escalation effect for patients. The sonic installation highlights the importance of sound as a design element in improving the intuitiveness, environmental health and safety of patients.

The Results

Impact and Value

Our thinking reinvents what we typically conceive of as an alarm and considers a different way to express criticality. Man Made believes that if this “Symphony of Healthcare” were to be implemented and accepted in hospitals across the country, tangible improvement could be made to the health and wellbeing of everyone who interacts and works in these environments.

“A new system takes a novel approach to monitoring patients’ vital signs, like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen saturation, with pleasant-sounding melodies instead of alarms. Designed by the audio branding studio Man Made Music as a commission for the Cooper Hewitt exhibition The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, it represents a new way of thinking about sound–and a promising approach to mitigating ‘alarm fatigue.’”– Fast Company

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