Assessing Affective Experience of In-situ Environmental Walk Via Wearable Biosensors For Evidence-Based Design

Tongji University, Shanghai, China
Group work with Zheng Chen, Sebastian Schulz, Wen Yang, Xiaofan He

In environmental psychology research, the most commonly used methods are phenomenological interviews and psychometric scales. Recently, with the development of wearable bio-sensing devices, a new approach based on bio-sensing data is becoming possible.

In this study, we examined the feasibility of using wearable biosensors to document affective experience during in-situ walk. An eight-channelled Procomp multi-bio-sensing devices (EKG, EEG, skin conductance, temperature, facial EMG, respiration) were used, in addition with a GPS tracker, to measure the in situ physiological affective responses to environmental stimuli.

This pilot experiment revealed consistent results between bio-sensing measures and two traditional methods, phenomenological interviews and psychological Likert scale rating, which indicated that mobile bio-sensing could be a promising method in measuring in-situ affective responses to environmental stimuli as well as diagnosing potential environmental stressor.

This new bio-sensory method, as exemplified in the research, could help identify negative stressful stimuli and provide evidence to support design strategies.

(1) Electrocardiogram(ECG);
(2) Electroencephalogram(EEG);
(3) Facial Electromyography(EMG);
(4) Skin conductance and skin temperature;
(5) Respiration;
(6) Signal amplifier.

Bio-sensory Data Analysis
With the help of signal filtering, heart rate from ECG and facial EMG were used to predict whether one feels pleasant, while the response from SC and several indicators from ECG were used to predict how much one feels aroused by the stimuli.
Environmental experience map based on bio-sensory signal computation
A georeferenced heat map was produced based on the biosensing dataset. A total of eight hotspots were identified. Among them, negative feelings revealed higher magnitudes(i.e., Location 2, 3 and 4), indicating stronger physiological arousals.
Design strategies based on multi-source diagnosis
Diagnosis indicated  location 3 triggered most negative emotions. Through a post-exposure participant interview, the negative emotional reactions were found out to mainly result from parking cars on the side of the walk. Therefore, we proposed to separate the pedestrian sidewalk from parking lots, which could initiate positive environmental perception, meanwhile maintaining the parking function.