Any Designed Environment

Sound and Balance (03-18-20)

Researchers have determined that what we hear influences our balance.  The investigators report in a literature review published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck that “What people hear and do not hear can have a direct effect on their balance. . . . . ‘This study found that the sounds we hear affect our balance by giving us important information about the environment. . . . ‘ said senior author Maura Cosetti, MD. . . . people had more difficulty staying balanced or standing still on an uneven surface when it was quiet, but had better balance while listening to sounds. . . .

Ramifications of Silence (03-17-20)

Pfeifer and Wittmann investigated how humans think when a space is silent.  They report that “Research on the perception of silence has led to insights regarding its positive effects on individuals. We conducted a series of studies during which individuals were exposed to several minutes of silence in different contexts. Participants were introduced to different social and environmental settings, either in a seminar room at a university or in a city garden, alone or in a group. . .

Smart Environment Design (03-16-20)

Kim and Maher studied metaphors that support the development of smart environments, i.e., spaces where technology is embedded.  They share that “[the device metaphor]represents performing tasks through users’ direct control. It encompasses providing better service, performance, and ease of control by using an interactive design as a device. . . .  A smart environment with embodied interaction is a robot in the sense that it is an intelligent machine capable of performing tasks without explicit human control.. .

Influences on Snacking Behavior (03-13-20)

Organizations concerned about the wellbeing of their members now have another issue to consider.  Cornil, Gomez, and Vasiljevic report that “At work, at school, at the gym club or even at home, consumers often face challenging situations in which they are motivated to perform their best. . . .  activating [triggering thoughts of] performance goals, whether in cognitive or physical domains, leads to an increase in consumption of high-calorie foods at the expense of good nutrition.

Desirable Temperatures (03-11-20)

Nakano and Tanabe studied reactions to air temperature in urban semi-outdoor environments, such as atria, terraces, and sidewalk eating areas.  They determined that “Clothing adjustments showed higher correlation with outdoor temperature, not the immediate environment. Occupants in non-HVAC spaces were more responsive to their environment. . . . The comfort zone . . . was found to be 19 - 30°C for HVAC spaces and 15 - 32°C for non-HVAC spaces."

Mechanics of Attention Restoration (03-10-20)

Chen, He, and Yu investigated the brain mechanics underlying attention restoration.  They had study participants spend 20 minutes wearing a cap that collected information about brain activity in a “restorative (wooded garden [by a pond]) or a nonrestorative (traffic island [in a heavily trafficked road]) environment. . . . the perceived coherence of the restorative environment may induce fatigue recovery and, hence, attention restoration via alpha-theta oscillations and synchronization.

Glass Stairs: Issues (02-28-20)

Glass staircases are regularly found in an assortment of environments. Kim and Steinfeld investigated the safety of winding glass staircases: “The purpose of this study was to assess the safety of a winding glass stairway by observing the behavior of stair users. . . .    Video observations were conducted in a retail store with a glass stairway (GS) and a shopping mall with a conventional stairway (CS). . . .  On the glass stairway, more users glanced down at the treads (GS: 87% vs. CS: 59%); fewer users diverted their gaze away from the stairs (GS: 54% vs.


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