4pNS2 – Use of virtual reality in designing and developing sonic environment for dementia care facilities

Arezoo Talebzadeh – arezoo.talebzadeh@UGent.be
Ph.D. Student
Ghent University
Tech Lane Ghent Science Park, 126, B-9052 Gent, Belgium

Popular version of 4pNS2 – Use of virtual reality in designing and developing soundscape for dementia care facilities
Presented in the afternoon of May 26, 2022
182nd ASA Meeting in Denver, Colorado
Click here to read the abstract

Sound is essential in making people aware of their environment; sound also helps in recognizing the time of the day. People with dementia have difficulties understanding and identifying their senses. The sonic environment can help them navigate through the space and realize the time; it can also reduce their agitation and anxiety. Care facilities and nursing homes, and long-term cares (LTC) usually have an unfamiliar acoustic environment for anyone new in the place. A well-designed soundscape can enhance the feeling of safety, elevate the mood and enrich the atmosphere. Designing the soundscape that fosters well-being for a person with dementia is challenging as mental disorders change one’s perception of space. Soundscape is the sonic environment as perceived by a person in context.

This research aims to enhance the soundscape experience during the design and development of care facilities by using Virtual Reality and defining the context during the process.

Walking through the space while hearing the soundscape demonstrates how sound helps spatial orientation and understanding of time. Specific rooms can have a unique sound dedicated to them to help residents find the location. Natural soundscape in the lounge or sounds of coffee brewing in the dining room during breakfast. Birds sound inside residents’ rooms during the morning to elevate their mood and help them start their day.

Sound is not visual (tangible); therefore, it is hard to examine and experience the design before implementation. Virtual Reality is a suitable tool for demonstrating sound augmentation and the outcome. By walking through the space and listening to the augmented sonic environment, caregivers and family members can participate during the design process as they are most familiar with the person with dementia and their interests. This method helps in evaluating the soundscape. People with dementia have a different mental model. Virtual Reality can help feature diverse mental models and sympathize with people with dementia.

2aNS7 – Directional Processing in Assessment of Wind Turbine Noise

Alexander Sutin -asutin@stevens.edu
Hady Salloum – hsalloum@stevens.edu
Alexander  Sedunov- asedunov@steves.edu
Nikolay Sedunov – nsednov@stevens.edu

Stevens Institute of Technology
Sensor Technologies & Applied Research (STAR) Center
Hoboken, NJ  07030
Click here to read the abstract

Popular version of 2aNS7 – Directional Processing in Assessment of Wind Turbine Noise
Presented Tuesday morning,  May25, 2022, 10:50-11:05 AM, Mountain
182nd ASA Meeting, Denver

Assessments of Wind Turbine Generator (WTG) noise are required to comply with the US Environmental Agency and local governments and avoid legal action that may result of non-compliant operation. Current methods for WTG noise measurements require the comparison of long-term sound data recorded before and after a WTG installation. These measurements must be conducted during several months for various wind speeds and environmental conditions.

The acoustic measurements conducted for a working WTG are not reliable due to the contamination of the measurements by sources other than the noise from the wind turbines[1]. Such sources of noise include traffic (highway, rail and air), construction, industrial facilities, wind in the trees, social activities, animals, birds , etc.

The goal of our paper is to provide suggestions on how the use of a microphone array could improve the WTG noise assessment by two ways: (1) identifying and attributing noise contribution to specific sources  (2) by emphasizing of acoustic signal from the WTG.

As an example of the microphone array, we consider the sensors developed at Stevens Institute of Technology [2], [3] for low-flying aircraft and drone detection (see Figures 1a and b), these  arrays have between 5 and 10 microphones.

These sensors use a signal processing algorithm based on the correlation between the signals received by the elements of the array to find direction towards sound sources and beamforming to emphasize the acoustic signal coming from specific directions.

As a result, it is possible to identify sounds not originating from the wind turbine and remove the affected time frames from the averaged measurement of noise levels. The Stevens array directivity (see Figure 1c) shows enhancing of the signal using beamforining.

wind turbine noise


wind turbine noise


wind turbine noise



Figure 1: Examples of acoustic arrays capable of direction-finding: a – acoustic system for low flying aircraft detection [2], b –array for unmanned aerial vehicle detection,c – the beam pattern for the latter array shown as relative gain depending on steered direction and frequency.

Previous prolonged deployments have provided examples of noise observation and angular localization from various sources. Figure 3 displays the spectrogram and signal angular output showing a complex situation with passing trains and vehicles.

wind turbine noise

Figure 2. An example of SRP-PHAT processing shows a complex situation with noise from a cargo train (T) and vehicles (V).

The configuration of the current Stevens system was optimized for low flying aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle detection and localization. Since the low-frequency noise components from wind turbines are a concern for the WTG assessment, the placement of the micropnes in the arry arrays can be  modified to operate in the appropriate frequency band.


[1]       S. Cooper and C. Chan, “Determination of Acoustic Compliance of Wind Farms,” Acoustics, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 416–450, 2020.

[2]       A. Sedunov, A. Sutin, N. Sedunov, H. Salloum, A. Yakubovskiy, and D. Masters, “Passive acoustic system for tracking low-flying aircraft,” IET Radar, Sonar Navig., vol. 10, no. 9, pp. 1561–1568, 2016.

[3]       A. Sedunov, D. Haddad, H. Salloum, A. Sutin, N. Sedunov. and A. Yakubovskiy, A., “Stevens drone detection acoustic system and experiments in acoustics UAV tracking.”  In 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security (HST) (pp. 1-7). IEEE.

1pNS1 – Innovative Solutions for Acoustic Disturbances Occurring in Slender Buildings

Bonnie Schnitta – bonnie@soundsense.com
Sean Harkin – sean@soundsense.com
Patrick Murray – patrick@soundsense.com
Collin Champagne – collin@soundsense.com
jeremy Newman – jeremy@soundsense.com

SoundSense, LLC
39 Industrial Rd, Unit 6
PO Box 1360
Wainscott, NY 11975

Popular version of paper ‘1pNS1 – Innovative solutions for acoustic disturbances occurring in slender buildings
Presented Monday Afternoon, 1:20PM, November 29, 2021
181st ASA Meeting, Seattle, Washington
Click to read the abstract

The construction of tall, slender buildings is trending globally. Structural engineering has made it possible for architects to achieve soaring heights with a smaller building footprint, leaving yesterday’s skyscrapers a thing of the past. The typical height to base ratio of a slender building is 10:1, although an 18:1 ratio is more common today. Tall buildings must flex and bend to absorb wind loads. As the ratio of height is increased, the impact caused by the wind on the slabs of each floor is also increased. This impact causes added movement of the walls, floors and ceilings which generate audible sounds of snap, creak, and pop. Regular exposure to this phenomenon may negatively impact the health and quality of life for the occupants. These disturbances can cause someone of normal hearing to wake from sleep or have their concentration disrupted, which is a growing concern for those individuals working from home. Medical experts have stated that exposure to this type of noise at home may cause stress, depression, high blood pressure, tension, tiredness, fatigue, or sleeplessness.
The presentation by SoundSense’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Bonnie Schnitta, at the upcoming Acoustic Society of America conference will show how to measure the sound and vibration in slender buildings during high wind conditions and what solutions exist for the findings. Case studies will be used to show how novel techniques have been used by SoundSense successfully in various projects.

In addition to showing how to engineer rooms that will acoustically withstand high wind conditions without excessive building sounds, interior architecture will be discussed to highlight how some designs may actually contribute to secondary noises. The presentation will cover the following:
• Use of insulation, density and resiliency to upgrade the acoustic properties of walls, preventing room to room noise transmission;
• Attachment of pipes and ductwork to walls or slabs using flexible connections, springs or rubber pads;
• How to appropriately use resilient seals in windows.

A device recently patented will be introduced to show how to assess acoustic leakage points, as even the smallest gap in the construction of a wall may compromise the efficacy of an acoustic treatment.

The importance of including materials that function as acoustic absorbers in any project’s design will also be discussed. Slender buildings typically utilize hard, reflective materials in large rooms, such as glass or drywall. When sound waves bounce off such surfaces it will create an echoey space that often amplifies noise.
The solutions developed by SoundSense to be presented at the upcoming ASA conference, will inform the attendees on the benefits of thoughtful, acoustic design to ensure the reduction or elimination of interior noise in Slender Buildings.


Bonnie Schnitta of Soundsense

4pNS2 – Sound of the City: Creating a Balanced Sound Composition in Urban Green Spaces

Lauren Gray – lreedgray@gmail.com
Jack Sullivan – jack@umd.edu
Christopher Ellis – cdellis@umd.edu
Ian Hoffman – ihoffman@jhu.edu

University of Maryland
4291 Fieldhouse Dr
College Park, MD 20742-5235

Popular version of paper ‘4pNS2 – Sound of the city: Creating a balanced sound composition in urban green spaces
Presented Thursday afternoon, December 2nd, 2021
181st ASA Meeting, Seattle Washington

Sound in the landscape is an important and often-ignored aspect of the human experience. In different landscapes seemingly cacophonous sounds can create a symphony, combining the beloved sounds of nature and humans with the often less desirable, but no less important, sounds of traffic and sirens. This symphony of sounds forms a soundscape, a “sonic environment” (Schafer, 1977) that humans experience. Much like landscapes, soundscapes can vary greatly depending on the sound sources adding their voices. This thesis puts the urban soundscape, and its relationship to the landscape and design, under a microscope.

The work of this thesis began with an investigation into the theories of composers John Cage and R. Murray Schafer, along with key research of outdoor soundscape design and application. By establishing ways in which sound had previously been explored from a musical perspective and practical application, the creation of a new design theory and methodology for surveying sound was formed. The design theory demands that the existing soundscape of a landscape be documented and analyzed to ensure that it best suits the wants and needs of its users. Once the soundscape has been documented and the needs established, any necessary changes can be made by altering the landscape. The method of sound documentation was formed in using both auditory and visual components. The auditory portion for this sound documentation methodology has the surveyor take auditory recordings using a portable recording device. The visual portion was created in this thesis and inspired by styles of notation in Western Classical Music, John Cage, R. Murray Schafer, and Landscape Architect, Lawrence Halprin. This combined method allows for sounds in the landscape to be recorded for both the eyes and ears, showing the many attributes of a soundscape over the course of 10-minute intervals.

To test the theory and method, they were then applied to the re-making of an urban soundscape and landscape. Located in Washington D.C., the site was chosen based on a variety of factors including but not limited to, sound sources, size of space, and geographic location. To begin the design process, the site was then analyzed both sonically and visually. The resulting soundscape and landscape design created a more varied and engaging sonic experience, further exploring the impacts of sound on the perception of place and a close examination of the conscious, subconscious, beautiful, and necessary in the design of landscape.

Urban Green Spaces

Schafer, R. Murray. (1977). The tuning of the world. Knopf. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000086818

3aNS4 – Protecting Sleep from Noise in the Built Environment

Jo M. Solet – Joanne_Solet@HMS.Harvard.edu
Harvard Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine
Boston, MA    United States

Popular version of paper 3aNS4 Protecting sleep from noise in the built environment
Presented Thursday, June 10, 2021
180th ASA Meeting, Acoustics in Focus

Recognition is growing over the need to protect patrons from hearing damage caused by high sound levels in stadiums and concert halls. In parallel, attention must be drawn to the health and safety impacts of lower level sound exposures, which contribute to resident sleep loss in built environments.

Those living in aging or poorly built, multiple occupancy buildings are likely to have substantial exposure to site exterior noise intrusions, as well as to noise produced within their own building envelopes. Sleep disruptive noise is very common in crowded, under-resourced neighborhoods; along with limited access to fresh food, poor air quality, and inadequate access to healthcare, disrupted sleep contributes to known health disparities. Older individuals are especially vulnerable, since as we age the parts of the night spent in the deepest sleep, most protected from disruption by noise, continues to decrease. Unfortunately, noise complaints are too often described as “annoyance” without recognition of potential health impacts.

Many localities have ordinances that define day and night sound level maximums, as measured at property lines; these typically apply to noise nuisance produced on one property and experienced on another, excluding noise produced inside a building, experienced between units. In Cambridge MA, noise intrusion enforcement is complaint-driven only. For local government to address the problem, those who are disturbed by noise emanating from an abutting property must first be aware of their rights, then file a complaint and submit evidence and or/attend a public hearing. This requires sophisticated self-advocacy, as well as time free from other responsibilities. Those carrying multiple jobs, doing shift work or having concerns about language skills or residency status, may not act on their rights even when they are aware of them.

It is well known that anticipating needed noise protections before construction is much easier and more cost-effective than retrofitting. Planning and design review for public housing, for example, should include attention to acoustics. Special care must be taken to consider “site exterior noise” such as auto traffic, commuter rail, overhead air flights, air-handling equipment and heat pumps, even local sirens and trash pick-up. Noise generated from “with-in the building envelope” including by elevators, plumbing, footfalls and other resident activities must also be considered in planning design configurations, and in selecting construction materials and finishes.

Insufficient sleep is known to have multiple negative health impacts, including upon cardiovascular health and diabetes risk, as well as impaired antibody production. Supporting the immune system through sufficient sleep has become especially critical during the Covid-19 crisis, both for directly fighting infection and for supporting adequate vaccine response.

By protecting sleep from disruption by noise, acoustics professionals have an important role to play in supporting public health. To address health disparities and other inequities in our society, we must come together, join forces and contribute to problem-solving beyond academic boundaries. I encourage my colleagues to step up and use science to inform policy. As part of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, I welcome your partnership and expertise.

consequences of inadequate sleep

2aNS3 – A Socio-Technical Model for Soundmapping Community Airplane Noise

Tae Hong Park – thp1@nyu.edu
New York University
New York, NY 10011

Popular version of paper 2aNS3 A socio-technical model for soundmapping community airplane noise
Presented Wednesday morning, June 9, 2020
180th ASA Meeting, Acoustics in Focus

Airports are noisy. Neighborhoods around airports are noisy. Airports around the world typically rely on theoretical noise models to approximate noise levels around airports. While the models render reasonable noise conditions, when closely looking at geospatial data, a different picture emerges. In Chicago, for example, airplane noise complaints have increased from approximately 15,000 per year in 2009 to 5,500,000 per year in 2017. In urban centers like New York, 10% of persons looking to rent or buy a home in Queens will hear near-constant roar of low-flying planes at their property; and in Flushing, 66% of listings are in “airport noise zones” as of June 2019.

While numbers tell a certain kind of story, they sometimes poorly capture human experiences. In the case of aerial sonic pain, it is perhaps even more difficult to relate to as noise is invisible, odorless, and shapeless. And unless one lives in such a neighborhood, how would one really know? And this is exactly what we were thinking which led us to visit neighborhoods around major airports in Chicago and New York with an open mind (ear?). The experience was shocking (wrote a piece for 140 speakers shortly thereafter!).

Since that first visit, we have been “putting the metal to the pedal” in accelerating the development of a socio-technical sound sensor network called Citygram that would make practicable measuring actual noise levels opposed to theoretical noise levels around airports. The project, launched 10 years ago, has also recently developed into a startup called NOISY to empower communities to track airplane noise around their homes.


Citygram Globe Interface showing sound level bars


Citygram heatmap interface

NOISY is essentially a low-cost, automatic aircraft noise tracking system using state-of-the-art AI and a smart sound sensor network. The NOISY sensor ignores non-airplane sounds such as dog barks, honking sounds, and loud music while identifying airplanes flying near your home, associating it with essential information such time-stamped decibel levels, position, and speed.

One of the key elements, apart from the technological advancements is that the sensors do not archive any audio nor is any audio sent to the cloud: only information such as how loud (decibels) and aircraft probability (0%-100%) is extracted from the audio, thus minimizing privacy concerns.

Theoretical noise models, are just that – models. And not knowing the actual aircraft noise levels that communities experience is problematic, especially in the context of developing meaningful mitigation efforts. That is, “you can’t fix what you can’t measure” and that is precisely what we are aiming to contribute to – a quieter future informed by measured data.

For more information on:
Citygram please visit: https://citygramsound.com
NOISY please visit: https://www.getnoisy.io