The GSAPP’s Cloud Lab teams up with neurologists and the design institute to track how urban environments can make people relaxed or tense.
This spring, the Cloud Lab at Columbia University and the Van Alen Institute tackled the challenge of assessing and mapping how people respond to their environment as a part of Van Alen’s Elsewhere series on wellness in the city.
Instead of the typical focus groups, however, the researchers tracked brainwaves to gauge the mental activities of nearly 100 volunteers; using electroencephalography-based (EEG) measurements and the GPS tracking app, the research team collected more than 1 gigabyte of data over 200 walking sessions that, in theory, create a snapshot of a day-in-the-life of the neighborhood’s mental states.
Presenting the data in a manner that retained its spatial qualities required the researchers to develop their own software for visualization. At a public follow-up presentation in May, the team presented the simplified data on a 3D map of DUMBO. Areas in cyan indicate places in which participants were in a more meditative and relaxed state, while areas in red indicate places where participants had a more focused or heightened sense of awareness...