Multimodal Experiment

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To get in touch with the basic psychological phenomena which affect a multimodal environment two quite simple AD rooms were designed. Both a relaxing and a stimulating atmosphere were created by adjusting five  parameters: materials, colour illumination, music and furniture colour and material.
The goal of this experiment was to find out the way participants reflected upon their experience of being in a designed room. These reflections were collected in a qualitative method and analyzed according to a holistic approach in order to better understand the experiential process.
The relaxing room

In the relaxing room the seat was upholstered with a synthetic, even and flat fabric. The color of the seat was a light turquoise. The room was illuminated by using only blue fluorescent tubes in the luminaries. The  illumination of the room was measured at two different spots: through the divider material (30 lux) and from above the seat (15 lux). The music played in the relaxing condition was Brian Eno’s Ikebukuro.

The stimulating room

In the stimulating room an identical round seat was used. However, the upholstery was a bright and structured red cotton. A piece of the same kind of bright and structured red cotton fabric was placed on the floor between the seat and the mirror as a mat. The illumination in the stimulating room was created by mixing red, white and blue tubes.  The illumination provided through the divider material was 135 lux and above the seat 70 lux. The music in the stimulating condition was Lindsay Buckland’s Trans Amazonian Highway.

Participants and procedure

Twentyone participants (10 females and 11 males) were gathered from the various student mailing lists within the Helsinki University of Technology. In the actual test situation the participants were asked to sit down in the room and fill in a stress monitor questionnaire.

Analysis

The participants in the relaxing room perceived their environment in an integrated way. They also paid attention to characteristics that were more of a combination of different stimuli than individual stimuli. For instance softness was often described as a result of materials, illumination and music. The participants perceived the music as being the most noticeable perceptual modality in the room.

In the stimulating room the perceptual descriptions and the focus of the participants’ attention were more concentrated on individual descriptions of a few stimuli. These stimuli were materials such as, the divider, illumination, the overall simplicity of the design and colors. The participants in the stimulating room perceived the music as being the most noticeable perceptual modality. Also colours, materials and the space divider drew their attention.

The laboratory conditions with surveillance systems, used in this experiment, could be more useful in other research paths, which could also be beneficial for the development of AMDE. The hybrid method should be applied to gain more knowledge concerning single modalities, e.g. sound, luminance, colours, materials and their interaction in more strictly determined environments.

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