Interactive soundscape augmentation of an urban park in a real and virtual setting

Authors: Timothy Van Renterghem, Kang Sun, Karlo Filipan, Kris Vanhecke, Toon De Pessemier, Bert De Consel, Wout Joseph, Dick Botteldooren

Inappropriate soundscapes are able to strongly deteriorate the user experience in parks. A possible remediation is adding positively perceived sounds.

The case of an urban park, fully surrounded by road traffic noise sources, was studied to explore the potential of adding natural sounds in an interactive way. A preliminary test was conducted in the lab with Virtual Reality (VR) glasses and headphones.

The audio-visual representation of the real environment was obtained by combining binaural recordings with first-order ambisonics and 360-degree video camera footage.

The users were allowed to mix in eight types of natural sounds until their personal optimized soundscape was composed. This was done in a very similar setup as in the (real) park. The loudspeaker augmenting the sound environment in the park was steered with a smartphone application.

This app ensured the user’s presence near the loudspeaker and allowed to gather more detailed assessments of the perceived sound environment through questionnaires. This combination of experiments allowed checking the validity of VR that is becoming increasingly popular in audio-visual interaction studies. In addition, the most preferred natural sounds and the way they influenced environmental noise perception were analyzed.

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Van Renterghem, T., Sun, K., Filipan, K., Vanhecke, K., De Pessemier, T., De Coensel, B., … Botteldooren, D. (2019). Interactive soundscape augmentation of an urban park in a real and virtual setting. In M. Ochmann, M. Vorländer, & J. Fels (Eds.), Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress on Acoustics : integrating 4th EAA Euroregio 2019 : 9-13 September 2019 in Aachen, Germany (pp. 899–903). Aachen, Germany: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Akustik.

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