Our laboratory hosted this morning a seminar given by Sylvia Hubalek, of the Environmental Ergonomics department of the Center for Organisational and Occupational Sciences in Zurich, Switzerland. She reported on work done by herself monitoring illuminance levels at the eye and tracking eye movements as a function of type of activity and light environment.
The data she gathers could help understand how feelings of well-being and alertness correlate with the amount of light we get during the day. Her methodology and equipement can also be used to understand what prompts people to switch their lights on/off, or raise/lower their blinds.
I learned about Sylvia’s work in September of this year at the LuxEuropa 2005 conference in Berlin. The head of our laboratory had been suggesting for some months that we try to set up an experiment where people would wear some equipment that would record their visual field somehow, and I had always dismissed the idea as too difficult to set up, and especially too difficult to find volunteers for.
Well here came Sylvia and proved me all wrong. Her contribution to the conference can be found here. She fits volunteers with equipment and records data for entire days.
It is too early for her to announce some specific findings, but what she does have is a substantial amount of data waiting to be analyzed. Results should be forthcoming in the next year.
We have in our lab some experience with monitoring people’s behaviour with respect to their visual environment, and a natural collaboration between Sylvia’s institute and ours would be to record data with her equipment while we monitor the subject’s acivities. This will help us achieve a much better understanding of what constitutes visual comfort and discomfort, and will also help us develop better automatic daylight controllers.