By Mona Malacane
If you’ve been looking for Anthony Almond lately, you may have noticed that he has been rather scarce around the department. Other than travelling to Las Vegas for the BEA conference last week, he has also been busy jetting up to Ithaca, New York to visit Cornell University, where he had been invited by Dr. So Yeon-Yoon to help set up a research lab in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis. At the recommendation of one of Anthony’s professors at Missouri (Dr. Kevin Wise), where he did his master’s, Dr. Yoon contacted Anthony earlier this year for his expertise with psychophysiological instruments. He has helped set up several psychophysiology labs in the past and, of course, works in the ICR, so Anthony has years of experience hooking people up to machines and zapping them (Just kidding, he would never do that.)
Dr. Yoon’s lab is the Design User Experience Technology Lab (D.U.E.T Lab) within the College of Human Ecology. She plans to use the lab to develop “an exploratory design/visual merchandizing research line using psychophysiological measures.” In other words, she plans to examine physiological responses to different virtual experiences of, say, a restaurant or a retail store. The lab is about two times the size of the grad lab, with a screen on an entire wall. This screen is used for an immersive, life-sized, 3D experience “… to test emotional [and] psychological responses to designed environments while controlling any visual variable.” As an example, Anthony talked about how the screen could be used to show a doctor’s office with a TV in the virtual office that displayed health tips and then this set-up could be used to examine the reception and processing of health information.
The first day of his visit included a tour of the beautiful campus, while the second day was more hands on. In the workshop, Anthony showed Dr. Yoon and others how to use the machine software, the correct settings for their machines, how to clean and analyze the psychophys data, what certain signals meant, and also how to organize and prepare their lab space to be efficient and comfortable. Although the machines come with instructions, they don’t include settings that are specific to certain experiments or they may just be unclear, which is why it’s necessary to have someone experienced to help, Anthony explained.
Because he has had the experience of setting up labs before, Anthony didn’t need to prepare much for the workshops he gave. He did, however, make sure to bring Rob’s textbook of psychophysiological measures, a kind of bible for all the different ways to zap people (Again, I’m totally kidding.).