Study latest

We’re exploring how people respond to the sounds of nature.

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Beginning with listening

In the push to maximise recent advances in VR technology, developers and researchers have tended to focus on immersive visual experiences.

Yet we know that the sounds of nature also have the potential to improve people’s wellbeing, and that the sonic environment of the natural world is preferred to listening to other kinds of sounds.

However, so far there hasn’t been a systematic attempt to unpick how audio can be used in virtual reality to create a restorative nature-based experience.

 
 

We’ve run one of the largest ever soundscape experiments

We partnered with the BBC to launch the Forest 404 Experiment, an investigation into how people respond to the sounds of nature. The study also featured a series of nature-based poems.

A staggering 7,600 people took part in the experiment, which closed at the end of September 2019. We’re currently analysing the data and will publish some of our initial findings here as soon as they’re ready.

You can find out more about the experiment and the amazing Forest 404 series by visiting bbc.co.uk/forest.

 
 

Where next?

The outcomes of this experiment will give us a unique insight into how the sounds of nature might influence psychological wellbeing. We will be able to measure the importance of people’s life experience, and make judgements about what kind of sounds might work best in virtual reality.

The next steps will be to test these findings in more detail, using them in virtual reality to closely observe the effects they have on a more focused sample of participants.

Progress will be regularly updated here and on the blog, stay tuned as the project unfolds.