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Can a Wrist-Worn Bio Sensor Change the Way You Design Buildings?

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

What if upon entering your building, you could see actual signals being sent to you from your occupants about how they feel while experiencing your building design? Would you design differently if you knew when within your building design they felt happy? Or in awe? Or stressed?

Now that technologies like the new Q Sensor (a type of bio sensor which tracks the stress levels of a person that is wearing it) are coming into play — we are in a time that is providing some very interesting opportunities for the architectural profession. For instance, you may be able to get more detailed information on what factors affect your occupant most while they take the journey through your building designs. You could potentially get to the bottom of what and why particular elements within your built space usually trigger certain reactions in your occupants. And, you could use that information to inform your design as it responds adaptively in real-time, or you could use it toward evolving your own body of architectural design works as you take what you’ve discovered into your future projects.

If used correctly to uncover emotional triggers, such a wearable bio sensor could give you quite fascinating information about your occupants likes and dislikes. And by learning from all of those occupants that are wearing these wrist worn sensors, your building may be able to adapt and modify itself to respond to the way in which they are reacting. Thus, such sensors can contribute to the information needed to allow architecture to engage in a more meaningful type of two-way dialogue between architecture and occupant — where the occupant would react and the architecture would react, but between them there would be an ongoing language in the architectural fabric that would unite them both. And it is in creating this rule-based language that your role as an architect is pivotal. For, you would be creating the thumb-print upon which that adaptive architectural language is based.

Designing an Architectural Language from the Seemingly Complex

Of course, the one thing that stresses one person may be the exact thing that relaxes another. So, how can you as an architect account for this when you are designing a building? Or furthermore an adaptive building?

The key would be to take all of the limiting factors, and come up with solutions that speak to them all by analyzing what unites them. If you try to simplify too soon, you may miss the clues within patterns that appear when looking at the more general, larger and seemingly more complex picture. But, with new technologies emerging like the wearable Q Sensor, it is becoming easier to aggregate data, and then manipulate that data to design interesting frameworks and architectural design patterns that speak to your occupants in renewed ways. For, if you gain a more in depth picture of how your occupants feel when experiencing your building design elements, you will most likely be inclined to experiment more to find what works, hone in on what is successful to built upon that, and improve your own connection with your clients — where you are able to design buildings more personally for them.

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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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