Developing a Biometric Testing Platform to Enhance Design Effectiveness in Workplace

Worksite Location
New York City
Project Dates
Faculty Sponsor
Saleh Kalantari, Department of Design and Environmental Analysis
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

Workspaces have been associated with significant negative health impacts, primarily mediated by increased levels of stress, physical inactivity, mood disruption, and poor diet. In addition to the unnecessary human suffering resulting from these impacts, the financial costs are staggering, both in terms of healthcare expenses, and a decrease in job satisfaction and productivity. There is some evidence that improved office designs can alleviate these effects, promoting greater worker health, satisfaction, and productivity. However, as is the case with nearly all architectural design research, the evidence for these findings rests primarily on small-scale studies using methods of self-reporting through surveys and interviews. Obtaining more rigorous, objective information about the human impacts of specific office-design variables (i.e., comparative biometric data about stress levels and mental focus in different office designs) can therefore make a strong contribution to improving human health and economic outcomes, and alter the future of work for design professionals and their customers. Our mobile wearable technology will streamline the process of obtaining more rigorous human-response data, and will thus support stronger scientific approaches in the field of design evaluation. Our testing platform incorporates noninvasive scalp electroencephalography (EEG), head motion, electrocardiography (ECG), and measurements of galvanic skin response (GSR), blood pressure, and body temperature, along with integrated video recording of participant behaviors. We will conduct two studies to investigate human responses to common design variables such as different workstation layout conditions (Study A) and different lighting and window view conditions (Study B).

Roles and Responsibilities

The student will join the DAIL team in this large project and will collaborate in testing the pilot data collection protocol, data collection in both Ithaca and NYC, and data analysis. The student will also be part of our plan to write up the results of the project for conference presentation and journal publication, as well as sharing our approach and technological resources in design-related workshops.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

No background is required. We will teach the required skills in the first two weeks of the project.

Benefits and Skills

Interacting with a community via technology, research-based tool

Teamwork in an interdisciplinary lab environment

Being familiar with the biometric data collection method (e.g. EEG, EKG, EOG, GSR, etc.)

Being familiar with data cleaning and data analysis steps