Sky Factory Scientific Research Initiatives

Since its inception, Sky Factory has advanced the application of compositional principles that endow nature imagery with an illusory or multisensory quality. It is our contention that the properties of illusory images generate a deeper Relaxation Response in the observer than has been documented employing standard representational imagery. We also contend that such illusions can change the subjective experiences of space in interior environments

After a decade of field-tested installations, the only evidence of this psycho-physiological phenomenon was based on the testimony of patients and others who reported experiencing a palpable feeling of openness and expansion that went beyond what is experienced with decorative nature imagery in healthcare settings.

View of a Luminous SkyCeiling installed at McCreery Cancer Care Center

Many observers reported transformative feelings of deep peacefulness or meditative-like states when in the presence of Open Sky Compositions, which the design team came to understand were effected by the compositional elements present in these multisensory images. The psycho-physiological impact was compounded by other equally important elements of design such as calibrated color temperature and light intensity of the image panels, and the use of patented, architectural reveals.

Of course, personal experiences are by nature subjective and there was no scientific evidence detailing the neurological correlates of these experiences.

For this reason, the Company began, and continues to engage in cooperative scientific research to better understand the cognitive mechanisms at work when Sky Factory products are installed in specific environments or used for the benefit of captive populations or occupants with particular needs. We invite interested researchers to contact us for more information about the program and to discuss ways in which we may work together.

Award-Winning Neural Research with Texas Tech University

Neural Correlates of Nature Stimuli: an fMRI Study, a pioneering study in neuroarchitecture spearheaded by the Department of Design and the College of Human Sciences at Texas Tech University, in collaboration with Sky Factory, will receive a Certificate of Research Excellence (CORE) by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) on May 31st, 2017, at the Awards Gala that opens EDRA48, the association’s annual conference, in Madison, WI.

Image of brain activation caused by Open Sky Compositions

The project, led by Texas Tech University researchers Drs. Debajyoti Pati, Michael O'Boyle, and Cherif Amor, examined whether there were unique patterns of brain activation associated with exposure to Sky Factory's Open Sky Compositions (representing nature stimuli) as compared with other positive nature images, negative, and neutral images.

This study was designed to understand and verify the cognitive mechanics involved in the perception of sky imagery designed as an environmental/architectural illusion—not designed to distract attention—but for cognitive engagement and healing.

While the designer advanced the hypothesis in this study, Sky Factory's design studio had no input on research design or data analysis. The study was subjected to the oversight of one or more institutional review boards (IRB) to ensure scientific merit and robustness.

The study was published in the peer reviewed Health Environments Research & Design Journal in the December 2014 (Winter) issue.

Read the full story in our press release

Design & Health International Academy AwardsThis landmark study also earned the Best International Research Project of the Year at the Design & Health International Academy Awards, held at the Royal York Fairmont Hotel in Toronto, back in the summer of 2014, during the 10th Design & Health World Congress.

 

Clinical Study with Texas Tech University and Covenant Health

Sky Factory's collaboration with Texas Tech University encompassed a second study to examine how the incorporation of Open Sky Compositions within patient room ceilings, in a medical-surgical unit, affected clinical and behavioral outcomes. An experimental group was assigned rooms outfitted with 4' X 6' Luminous SkyCeilings directly over the bed while the control group was assigned to identical rooms, except they featured standard acoustic tile ceilings.

The resulting paper, The Impact of Simulated Nature on Patient Outcomes: A Study of Photographic Sky Compositions, found a difference in Acute Stress by more than half (53.40%) and a difference in Anxiety by more than a third (34.79%) in patients assigned to the experimental group where the occupants were exposed to Luminous SkyCeilings.

The study was published in the peer reviewed Health Environments Research & Design Journal in the October 2015 issue.

Read the full story about the study on our press release.

This patient room was used to measure health benefits of Luminous SkyCeilings

Current Research Initiatives

The Patient Experience and MRI Efficiency

Sky Factory is currently collaborating with the National Health Service Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom to measure and evaluate the impact of Luminous SkyCeilings on the patient experience and MRI efficiency.

Session delays or cancellations, in addition to MRI retakes due to the patient’s trepidation and anxiety about the procedure, raise a hospital's average cost per session. Since imaging sessions are among the most expensive environments to operate, environmental design features that can mitigate patient distress and helps them relax and remain still, will improve an operator's MRI efficiency.

Delaying Delirium Onset in the Emergency Room

Sky Factory is currently collaborating on a study to determine the impact of the Personal Revelation SkyCeiling in delaying further episodes of delirium among elderly patients admitted for observation in the auxiliary ER.

ERs are a poor choice for observing patients suffering from delirium. The insular design of standard ER environments exacerbates the disorientation experienced by this population. However, oftentimes busy hospitals cannot assign standard rooms for overnight admittals.

The study will evaluate whether virtual skylights, which provide a simulated conduit to a natural exterior, reduce patients' anxiety enough to mitigate the onset of the onset of subsequent episodes of delirium.


Sky Factory White Papers

The Architectural Impact of Perceived Open Space

This paper explores the impact of deep plan buildings on human performance. It analyzes the role circadian light and perceived open space play in shaping cognitive function, as well as how our psycho-physiology changes in response to different interior environments.

The paper also explores how our sensorimotor system and our memory share the same neural pathways that perceive and map our surroundings, making our memory a neural repository of spatial reference frames—visual perspectives that we instinctively recognize.

By reviewing the malleable nature of human perception and how multisensory illusions can be incorporated into architectural settings, the reader gains a deeper insight into how biophilic design technologies enable deep plan buildings to minimize their deleterious impact on occupants during the long lifecycles typical of today's buildings.

The paper will be available in the summer of 2017.

Scientific Research and Sky Image Ceilings

Sky Factory's first white paper describes the hypotheses that guide the company's artistic framework—Open Skies Image Technology—while presenting some of the existing research that supports these hypotheses and discusses possible avenues of investigation.

Download Sky Factory's first white paper, Scientific Research and Sky Image Ceilings.