How technology makes studies possible


Before the advent of today’s technology, it would be highly unlikely that the type of sophisticated research conducted at the Well Living Lab could be performed. The questions that need answering could have emerged in scientific minds, but they likely would have remained questions, without a way to obtain answers.

Ponder, for example, how a research lab would set up an environmental study to measure human reactions to different types of lighting, thermal conditions and sound levels without technology to accurately control these conditions. Consider how human subjects would react if they had to wear obtrusive brain monitoring devices or have invasive tests to determine their stress levels instead of wearing a small wrist monitor. Think about how millions of data points must be captured and be instantly available for analysis.

Research at the caliber of that being done at the lab requires actuators to control environmental systems, sensors to capture environmental and biometric measurements and a computerized command and control center. It requires a system compliant with laws about patient confidentiality such as the Healthcare Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and cybersecurity considerations. The lab built such a technology infrastructure and transmits every discrete piece of information into the cloud.

With all this, researchers can sit in the control room and click a mouse to open or close the window shades in the office space next door where studies are conducted. They can immediately see a computer graph indicating the changes taking effect, such as room temperature.

Researchers may want to find answers to perplexing questions, such as the relationship between environmental factors and sleep or lighting and stress, but that can only happen if it is technically feasible to conduct a given study – and only if advanced analytics can help make sense of the data and find correlations.

At the Well Living Lab, a team of researchers work in the same control room as the technology experts, where together, they contemplate ways to obtain the knowledge needed to transform human health and well-being in indoor environments.

A few years ago it would have been nearly impossible to embark on what the Well Living Lab is accomplishing today. So imagine what it might be capable of in another few years. Technology is the enabler and as complex, as it is, it actually makes scientific undertaking easier