AMBIENT aims to investigate how rhythms influence people's bodily behaviour. A ticking clock is an example of a sonic rhythm. A blinking light is a visual rhythm. Such auditory and visual rhythms may fuse into complex audiovisual rhythms in an environment. The hypothesis is that such audiovisual rhythms influence people, consciously or unconsciously. This will first be studied through month-long observation studies of people working alone in their offices. We will monitor the audiovisual rhythms quantitatively and compare these to both qualitative and quantitative responses from the participants. Then we will move to study how people work together through online collaborative tools. The aim is to develop a coherent theory of the audiovisual and spatiotemporal nature of environmental rhythms. Finally, we will explore creating an interactive system for recreating audiovisual rhythms in a telematic classroom.
Much focus has been devoted to understanding the "foreground" of human activities: things we say, actions we do, sounds we hear. From such a perspective, various types of background elements are considered "noise", for example, the sound of a ventilation system in an office, the footsteps of people in a corridor, or people's fidgeting in a classroom. Such elements are usually not at the forefront of our attention, but they still constitute an important part of the experienced ambience of an environment.
AMBIENT will investigate such environmental "noise", how it influences people's bodily behaviour, and how people feel about such rhythms in an environment. This will be done by studying how different auditory and visual stimuli combine to create rhythms in various settings. The hypothesis is that various types of rhythms influence people's bodily behaviour through principles of entrainment, that is, the process by which independent rhythmical systems interact with each other.
AMBIENT will develop a coherent theory of the rhythms of in-door environments, informed by three sets of case studies:
- WP2: observations of people working alone in their offices
- WP3: observations of people working together in a physical-virtual shared office
- WP4: experiments with an interactive ambience system in a telematic classroom
The aim is to work towards a greater understanding of (a) the rhythms of in-door environments, (b) how people interact with such rhythms, and (c) how such rhythms can be captured and (re)created in a different environment. The development of a coherent theory of the audiovisual and spatiotemporal nature of rhythm may lead to scientific impact in a number of related disciplines. The knowledge gained about people's everyday experiences may lead to societal impact on the design of in-door environments, use of background music, and better systems for telecommunication.