Sitara Systems To Refresh Hospital’s Zebrafish Display With NFC Technology

The Zebrafish Display at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, is receiving a modern update, with the help of design and technology laboratory Sitara Systems. The Zebrafish Display is an interactive fundraising display of 477 3D printed zebrafish, an homage to the importance of zebrafish in cancer research. Each fish is a unique algorithmically-generated shape engraved with a short personal tribute from a donor who made a philanthropic gift in support of Dana-Farber’s mission. 

Prior to the redesign, visitors to the wall could touch the fish to activate them and display a paired message on nearby screens. 

Nathan Lachenmyer, Co-founder and Director of Technology at Sitara Systems, helped create and design the original installation in 2012 in partnership with Small Design Firm. Now Lachenmyer, along with Sitara System’s Co-founder Sadiya Akasha, have redesigned the installation with Near-Field Communication (NFC), a wireless technology that allows one to transfer data between two devices that are in close proximity to each other, the same technology that is used for contactless payment. This allows visitors to display a message on the proximate screen without actually having to touch the fish.  A sign of the times, this change was made due to the evolving attitudes towards touch screens, especially in hospitals and other buildings where the health of high-risk individuals is a priority. 

For decades, Dana-Farber researchers have used the tiny tropical zebrafish as a research model because the genes of this fish are remarkably similar to those of humans, allowing them to play an essential role in the discovery of lifesaving cancer therapies. The symbolic display of zebrafish serves as a powerful way to share each donor’s unique message of hope or appreciation with visitors, all while raising funds for cancer research and patient care. 

“The Zebrafish Display is a heartwarming project. It’s already well-loved by the donors, patients, and staff at Dana-Farber, so giving it new life has had high stakes but is also a deeply rewarding, fun project that focuses on using new, innovative technology to avoid touch. The display has a naturally emotional hook as it’s become a special exhibit and source of inspiration for cancer patients and their families,” said Sadiya Akasha, Co-founder and Director of Product Development, Sitara Systems.

About Sitara Systems: 
Sitara Systems specializes in the design and implementation of interactive experiences in physical spaces. The creative technology company conceptualizes, designs, tests, and produces in-person experiences for storefronts, cultural institutions, and museums.  The company’s co-founder is responsible for, among other accomplishments, creating a patent-pending computer vision enabled mailbox that reads stamps, including a John Lennon Memorial stamp for the USPS. 

Other high profile company projects include creating holiday displays for the Cartier Mansion in New York, a Nobel Peace Center interactive book, a Cadillac-sponsored celebration of their rear view mirror in Marfa, Texas, and a Samsung interactive product demonstration at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.  

The company utilizes a blend of proven techniques from the fields of academic research, human centered design, and agile methodologies to deliver new and exciting experiences that satisfy both strategic organization goals and audiences alike.