Applied methods in Periphery

The experiment series carried out in the research setting periphery focus on investigation of habituation and learning processes in an environment. The space reacts to human actions and movements (e.g. movement, contact, altered breathing rate/GSR, etc.) with changes in light, sound, temperature. Adaptivity is the focus – both of the human to the technology and of the technology to the human. The room design therefore barely differs from an everyday room.


Qualitative data collection and analysis methods (anthropocentric perspective) 

  • 8-12 colleagues and students are invited to pursue their everyday work in a sensor-equipped space and with biofeedback sensors on their bodies over three to five days. 
  • They are asked to continuously document their observations, insights and feelings towards the space and its objects in a digital diary (Cultural Probes). 
  • At the end, a detailed interview follows, which will be transcribed and analyzed. 


Quantitative methods of measurement and analysis (technical perspective)

The following situations will be recorded:

  • Presence (arriving/leaving the room): light barrier + motion detector
  • Biofeedback worn on the body: GSR, respiration, acceleration
  • Type of sitting on office chair (contact, acceleration, tilt)
  • Laptop computer: activation, identification of software used
  • Cell phone: activation, identification of apps used
  • Work performed (regular entries in diary)


All sensor data is recorded and evaluated with machine learning. The digital diary in which the subjects write their observations is synchronized with the sensor recordings and can therefore be related to the situation and atmospheric changes.


Responsiveness of the room (atmospheric room parameters) 

After a shorter learning phase, the system can react in near real time to the detected patterns: it can act in a balancing (negative feedback) or intensifying (positive feedback) manner. The following atmospheric design tools are used to represent analysed data and to stage environmental response:

  • Modern but neutral office style working environment: desk, office chair, desktop computer, table lamp, general light, …
  • Lighting: brightness & tonality (fatigue, daylight), flickering (wake up, alert), … desk lamp (focus on work), basic light (focus on life in the room)
  • Sound: volume, pitch, treble, … sounds (noise, nature), sound types (classical, rock, ambient, techno, R&B, … allusions to content (text, symbolism)
  • Heat (seat cushion): when overheated: request for movement/break
  • Ventilation: airing out after phone call, whenever a certain software is used, …


Further examples of data mapping design (spatial responses to activities)

  • When nervously rocking the chair > easy listening or flickering lamp.
  • During prolonged periods of motionlessness (full concentration) > room light prompts some distance.
  • During intensive work with different softwares > Room turns green.
  • After long phone calls > Easy Listening Sound (request for relaxation).