How Architecture Can Respond to Emergencies

With the advent of the smart building comes a new innovation like smart carpeting. And what does a smart carpet do? Well, according to Popular Science, it “detects your gait, and knows if you’ve fallen”. (1) Such smart flooring can be quite an advantage for those that may be living alone or healing in a hospital. You see, there are times when people may need help – like if they have fallen and can’t get up. And this is where the smart environment comes into play, by being able to ask the fallen occupant questions, analyze their answers, and call for extra help if need be.

Smart environments aim to help building occupants with many issues, from helping them to live healthier and happier lives, to helping them during a time of crisis. And flooring is just one way in which an architecture can observe occupant behavioral cues.

When sensors are embedded in an environment’s interior furnishings, appliances, and everyday objects, architecture can move from responding to an emergency toward preventing that emergency in the first place. You see, by observing patterns of human behavior, smart environments can make predictions about impending occupant necessities and outcomes. And with such predictions, smart architecture can help its occupants with just-in-time design interventions — to help occupants reach goals, remove obstacles, and yes, prevent emergencies.

How Architecture Can Help During a Crisis

Of course, good architectural design is preventative, in that it goes out of its way not to cause accidents and mishaps in the first place. However, should an emergency surface — how would your architecture respond?

If your building is not a smart environment, you could look into considerations which involve proper lighting, evenness of flooring materials, and ensuring that proper safety regulations are met. For example, within a hospital — is there a way for nurses to keep a caring and watchful eye on patients recovering within their patient room? How might they know if they have fallen while walking from their bed to their bathroom?

All in all, smart environments can provide for not only cleaner, happier, and healthier living — but for safer living as well. So, the next time you walk on a carpet, just imagine that in the future such a flooring may recognize you because of your gait, and it may help you by directing you toward your destination, or by calling for help should you fall.

So much can evolve, from a design standpoint, because of smart flooring . In fact, my feeling is that this is only the beginning — as new and innovative uses for smart flooring will surface in the future.


(1) Dillow, Clay. Smart Carpet Detects Your Gait, Knows If You’ve Fallen. Popular Science. Sept. 4, 2012.

Image Credit: © Dreamstime




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