Authors: Tianhong YU, Holger Behm, Ralf Bill and Jian Kang
Journal Title: ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
ISSN: 2220-9964 (Print)
Publisher: MDPI AG
The virtual reality of the landscape environment supplies a high level of realism of the real environment, and may improve the public awareness and acceptance of wind park projects. The soundscape around wind parks could have a strong influence on the acceptance and annoyance of wind parks. To explore this VR technology on realism and subjective responses toward different soundscapes of ambient wind parks, three different types of virtual reality on the smartphone tests were performed: aural only, visual only, and aural–visual combined. In total, 21 aural and visual combinations were presented to 40 participants. The aural and visual information used were of near wind park settings and rural spaces. Perceived annoyance levels and realism of the wind park environment were measured. Results indicated that most simulations were rated with relatively strong realism. Perceived realism was strongly correlated with light, color, and vegetation of the simulation. Most wind park landscapes were enthusiastically accepted by the participants. The addition of aural information was found to have a strong impact on whether the participant was annoyed.
Furthermore, evaluation of the soundscape on a multidimensional scale revealed the key components influencing the individual’s annoyance by wind parks were the factors of “calmness/relaxation” and “naturality/pleasantness”. “Diversity” of the soundscape might correlate with perceived realism. Finally, the dynamic aural–visual stimuli using virtual reality technology could improve the environmental assessment of the wind park landscapes, and thus, provide a more comprehensible scientific decision than conventional tools. In addition, this study could improve the participatory planning process for more acceptable wind park landscapes. 

Photo: The experimental setting of the aural–visual assessment in a controlled laboratory; participants rated 21 stimuli in total through cardboard/headphones and completed the responses of the online evaluation system. (credits: Tianhong YU, Holger Behm, Ralf Bill and Jian Kang)

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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