Tuning out the distraction

Ambient noise is increasingly recognised as a major detriment to health and wellbeing, especially in densely populated cities where residential areas are often close to industrial and construction sites.

To help urban designers plan public spaces with improved aural comfort, a team from NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering developed a software system that allows users to simulate soundscapes—3D acoustic environments that can be perceived by humans.

Using augmented reality headsets coupled to the soundscape-creating software system, study subjects can listen to sound objects, sound interactions and masking effects, and evaluate the soundscape.

“This data can be used by urban designers to develop sound objects and masking techniques that are able to mitigate noise,” says team leader Prof Gan Woon Seng. “The system will help urban planners and real estate developers to design spaces that reduce noise pollution and improve the aural comfort of residents,” he adds.

The research is one of five projects that won a total of S$14 million (US$10.3 million) in Singapore’s Land and Liveability National Challenge. The findings were published as a conference paper titled “3D Audio AR/VR capture and reproduction setup for auralisation of soundscapes” at the 24th International Congress on Sound and Vibration in July 2017.
This article appeared first in NTU’s research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #12, December 2017).

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