sensory science

More on Workplace Pedaling (08-14-15)

Carr and his team link at-desk pedaling to big payoffs.  They provided a small, relatively inexpensive device to participants in their study that allows people to move their legs in a pedaling sort of motion while sitting in their desk chair, using their computer, and working in their “usual” way—all without hitting their knees on the underside of their work surface.  Adding this “pedaler” to a conventional workspace creates an “activity permissive workstation.”  When such a setup was supplied, study participants used “the activity permissive workstations 50 minutes/work day [on average].

Neighborhood Amenities and Walking (08-13-15)

Menec and her team researched neighborhood amenities and walking.  The team reports that it learned via interviews that “A large proportion of participants [age 45 to 94] did not think it was very important to have amenities [e.g., food store, park] within walking distance, and the majority of participants drove to get [to the store, etc.], even . . . individuals who reported it was very important to have the amenities within walking distance. . . . The study underscores the impact of a car culture where the tendency to drive is paramount.”

Evaluating Ambiguous Art (08-12-15)

Muth and her team wondered how ambiguous artworks are evaluated.  So they investigated:   “Although experimental research has shown people’s particular appreciation for highly familiar and prototypical objects that are fluently [easily] processed, there is increasing evidence that in the arts people often prefer ambiguous materials which are processed less fluently. . . . we empirically show that modern and contemporary ambiguous artworks evoking perceptual challenge are indeed appreciated. . . .

Designing for Active Older Lives (08-10-15)

Ahrentzen and Tural reviewed completed studies of how home design influences the activity levels of older individuals.  Their “review focuses on six built environment characteristics: (1) barriers, supports and features that ‘fit'; (2) spatial organization and layout; (3) environmental cues; (4) ambient qualities; (5) assistive technologies; and (6) gardens and outdoor spaces.”  They learned that  “Pathway and corridor design, and environmental cues that convey an instrumental [direct] function of a space . . . facilitated active living.

Dust, Dust, Dust (08-07-15)

Research indicates that dust is not just unsightly, but also bad for our waistlines.  Mole reports that “Dust bunnies that breed under furniture may be bad news for waistlines, a new study suggests. . . . Components of indoor dust may signal human fat cells to grow and may alter metabolism, potentially contributing to weight problems.” Designing with fewer dust trapping elements, for example, is supported by this research finding.

Confirmation: Being in Nature is Good for Children (08-06-15)

Chawla has analyzed available research on children’s experiences with nature.  Her study confirms that “A compelling body of evidence exists that trees and natural areas are essential elements of healthy communities for children. They need to be integrated at multiple scales, from landscaping around homes, schools, and childcare centers, to linked systems of urban trails, greenways, parks, and ‘rough ground’ for children’s creative play.”

Louise Chawla.  “Benefits of Nature Contact for Children.”  Journal of Planning Literature, in press.

Cutting Street Lighting Can Be OK (08-05-15)

Data collected in England and Wales indicates that reducing street lighting does not necessarily produce calamitous results.  Researchers determined that “Many local authorities in England and Wales have reduced street lighting at night to save money and reduce carbon emissions. . . . We quantified the effect of 4 street lighting adaptation strategies (switch off, part-night lighting, dimming and white light) on casualties and crime in England and Wales. . . . There was no evidence that any street lighting adaptation strategy was associated with a change in collisions at night. . . .

Traveling While Texting (08-04-15)

Licence and his colleagues have confirmed that people don’t walk in the same way while texting that they do otherwise.  They determined that “Participants took significantly longer . . . to complete the course [a walking path] while texting . . . vs. normal walking [i.e., while not texting]. . . . Texting while walking . . .  significantly affect[s] gait characteristics . . . resulting in a more cautious gate pattern.”  Implications for design include separate walking paths for those who are texting while walking and people who aren’t doing so.


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