Living well Your Health & Wellness

Can a new kind of housing make us healthier?

Written by Diane Archer

Can you imagine a home or apartment redesigned and retrofitted in ways that make us healthier?  The Mayo clinic is partnering with Delos to test the proposition.  They are designing a 7,500 square foot space that allows them to monitor multiple dimensions of people’s behavior in a residential or office setting through a “Well Living Lab.”

It turns out that we spend more than 90 percent of our lives indoors.  The quality of our indoor environment therefore has a profound effect on our health and well-being. So, there is great opportunity to design spaces that better promote health and happiness.

The Well Living Lab allows researchers to control people’s environment in order to determine which environments, be they at home, at work or at play, are good for people’s health.  They’ll be able to assess your sleep using pressure-sensitive mattresses and thermal cameras.  They will be able to control the degree of light, the temperature and the quality of the air.  They will have pressure sensors on the floor to measure activity and sensors on the refrigerator.

If the lab is set up as an office, sensors will be attached to desk chairs to assess people’s posture as they sit. Researchers can also test how different sounds affect focus and stress.  And, they will test people’s blood pressure and heart rate.

The first research projects will begin in 2016. In time, the hope is to have a better sense of the ways to build healthier indoor environments that promote well-being.

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