Using Technology to Design Better Human Experiences

Gresham Smith’s empathic platform uses geo-located data collected from wearables to track how a user responds to the built environment—whether it’s a pedestrian crossing the street at an intersection, a nurse working their shift at a hospital or a traveler making their way through an airport terminal.

Benefits of Empathic Analytics

Before, we were forced to look at historical data in the rear-view mirror, waiting for problems to emerge before we could address them.

Now, the empathic analytics tool allows us to biometrically capture user stress data and to identify friction points in the built environment, highlighting areas of problematic, stressful experiences. Our platform provides a quick, accurate way to measure user’s concerns to predict where we should focus our design efforts to solve problems that aren’t necessarily readily apparent.

Case Studies

Florida Department of Transportation’s “Target Zero” Initiative

In Florida, we’re using the tool in field reviews to help FDOT implement its “Target Zero” initiative of zero pedestrian deaths or serious injuries on roadways. With the results from the tool, FDOT is now able to make data-driven decisions about how to design safer intersections and roadways.

Addressing Safety in Atlanta

In Georgia, we’re partnering with the Atlanta Regional Commission to use the tool in corridor studies that are being performed in the Atlanta area. Empathic analytics data is being used in the Roswell Road Access Management Plan to address operational and safety issues in a key roadway for the city that is rated as one of the least safe roadways in the area. And planners are also using the tool in the Bells Ferry Road Operational Study, which seeks to improve safety on a busy corridor in Cobb County.

“I’m excited about being a part of this project for the opportunity to use science in a unique, creative way and using that new knowledge to inform design changes to have maximum benefit. Often in research, we can propose how a new finding may have critical implications, but we do not get to be a part of the real-world application and implementation. It’s exciting to be a part of a project where not only are we asking intriguing scientific questions (e.g., how we can use wearable technologies to detect stress events in a natural setting), but we are also getting the chance to be a part of implementing meaningful societal changes as a direct result of those findings (e.g., providing solutions for enhancing commuter safety).”

—Rachael A. Muscatello, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, SENSE Lab, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Future Applications

While we have had great success recording user stress outdoors due to the prevalence of geolocation tech, we are now focusing on key partnerships that will allow us to bring this technology and analytics package indoors. This will open a new wave of exploring how stress impacts us at airports, healthcare facilities, industrial settings, developments and office space!

modern airport terminal  with passengers motion blur in shanghai

Our Team

Keith Besserud

Director of Innovation

Mike Sewell

Senior Strategist

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