This summer, forest students, research assistants and other control group members working in Hyytiälä have been spotted ringed with smart rings on their fingers in Hyytiälä. The ongoing Healing interiors -pilot experiment tests the functionality of wearable technologies, i.e., smart rings, used to measure psychophysiological well-being and produces basic information on the perceived well-being of forest students in the built environment.
The data and experiences gathered now will be utilised in planning more long-term studies on the effects of the living environment and wood use on people's overall well-being. The health and well-being effects of wooden buildings have been the focus of interest for some time, but there is still a shortage of long-term research data around the world. The new Living Lab facilities completed in Hyytiälä provide an excellent setting for a long-term follow-up study of user experiences of modern wooden buildings and their impact on perceived and measurable well-being.
The pilot experiments launched in the summer focus on human-material interactions. During the summer field courses, the students have stayed both in an old log building in Impivaara and in concrete accommodation. In addition, their well-being has been monitored when returning from Hyytiälä back to urban life. During the pilot, the students have used two types of smart rings: the Oura ring, which is based on measuring heart rate, and the Nuanic ring, which is related to the electrical conductivity of the skin. Questionnaires and interviews have been used to collect information about participants' living experiences, comfort and other factors that support learning and recovery during field courses.
Preliminary results from surveys on perceived well-being give an indication of what was expected: wooden accommodation was perceived as supportive and pleasant for well-being. Of course, the social dimension, especially Hyytiälä communality, and other differences from normal everyday life or the activities of field courses cannot be completely detached from the results, because people are a complex entity, and the field course has different conditions from everyday life. However, it is interesting to investigate whether the psychophysiological data collected with the help of rings reveal changes in the measured variables (e.g., stress, sleep quality, and recovery) and how they may be related to changes in place of residence and type of accommodation, as well as to the subjects' individual experiences.
The pilot trial is planned to continue in the autumn to cover the new accommodation buildings in Hyytiälä area. A new group of forest students to be recruited in the autumn will live both in Impivaara and in the accommodation rooms of the new building. The data collected in the pilot studies thus enables comparisons of user experiences of different accommodation buildings. In addition, the experience gained from the pilot study can be utilised in the future when planning research projects in the new Living Lab environment.