We’re starting with an exploration of the sounds of nature.
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.
A national soundscape experiment
We want to improve understanding in this area and will start by uncovering how people across the UK respond to the sounds of nature . To do this, we’ve partnered with the BBC to launch one of the biggest soundscape experiments ever conducted, asking the UK public to help us collect data by listening to a variety of natural sounds.
We also want to explore the role that our rich cultural interactions with nature might play, and will be including nature-based poetry in this investigation. The study will launch in April 2019 and details of how to take part will be available here very soon.
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.