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Using Sensory Design with Tracking Technologies to Promote Health

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

Image Credit: © jurvetson | Flickr

Lately, many technologies are surfacing that help with the tracking of a person’s physiological signals for health. Such a technology is sleep tracking technology which monitors heart rate, movement, and breathing. So, when a person lies in bed sleeping, data is being collected about the quality of that person’s sleep. (1)

Yet, what can you, as an architect, do with such data to help your occupants? And can architecture be the go-between that pulls from data which tracks health, to emitting environmental stimuli which promotes health? Well, I say the answer to the latter question is yes, and for the answer to the first question: read on.

Just imagine if the two could work together: tracking health and promoting health. With tracking, you would find health problems, and with promoting you would treat and prevent health problems. Thus, to make this work, the tracking device and the architecture would need to communicate.

As the device detects shifts in the health algorythms of an occupant, the architecture could pull from this data to release just-in-time environmental stimuli to cater to the particular occupant need.

For example, a sleep monitoring device might detect an occupant tossing and turning in bed while trying to sleep at night. If the architecture could pull from that data (communicating with the device), sensory design could really help the architecture to interactively emit stimuli to prevent further sleep disturbances. Some architectural aspects which could be tailored might include the adjustment of temperature, lighting, sound, and even scent.

So I now ask you to think about how your architecture could be improved if it could communicate with a device within it. What would that communication need to be like in order to make for a successful architectural design response? And how would your architecture be better as a result of that communication?


(1) Simonite, Tom. Sleep Sensor Hides Beneath the Mattress. Technology Review. November 9, 2011.





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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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