By Bryan Denson
An innovative project inside the solitary confinement wing of Oregon's biggest prison has been named one of Time magazine's "25 Best Inventions of 2014," the state prison system announced Tuesday.
The "Blue Room" project, which The Oregonian revealed to readers last August, offers Oregon's most incorrigible prisoners a chance to sit alone in a room where they can watch videos of nature scences.
University of Utah researcher Nalini Nadkarni, who has long sought ways to incorporate natural imagery to prisoners locked away from it, has teamed up with the prison and other researchers to learn whether the Blue Room experiment offers long-term help to those kept in solitary confinement.
Researchers are studying men in the Intensive Management Unit at Snake River Correctional Institution, where the prison system houses its highest security level inmates. Many of the prisoners have reported that videos of Big Sur, a brook in a dark forest, a tropical beach and 30 other nature videos calm them down.
The images, with audio, are projected on a screen inside a recreation room.
Time's annual report on the top 25 inventions of the year listed the Blue Room as No. 20. The project joined such innovations as hoverboards, intelligent spacecraft and edible food wrappers.
(c)2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)