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Wayfinding at large hospitals

Wayfinding at large hospitals

Photo: Melissa B. Kirkeby Yildirim.

In a research project in collaboration with New Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Assistant Professor Schultz has completed wayfinding experiments in one of the largest hospital construction projects in the US.

He equipped 30 test subjects with eye tracking glasses and asked them to find their way to specific points on a map of the hospital. From his computer, he could monitor the subjects’ eye movements and behaviour as they moved through the corridors and across the area.

“We obtained vast amounts of data based on video and eye movements. What were people looking at? What signs did they notice? What signs did they miss? When did they get lost? Was there a difference between the behaviour of young and older people? Women and men? The large amounts of data enabled us to arrive at a basic definition of the idea of getting lost,” he said.

The experiment at the hospital in Dallas was one of the first of its kind to use these artificial intelligence methods for wayfinding analysis.

“We’ve developed an intelligent system that makes it possible to identify patterns in the eye movements of test subjects in connection with the environment. A few years ago, scientists would have to watch hours of experiment video and manually identify when interesting things happened. Now, computers have the right language of human experience to automatically identify meaningful causalities that affect people’s navigation abilities,” he says.