RainScape ⛈️

by Team Squirtle

Along with the rain

In our research we discovered that being in the presence of natural greenery, hearing calming sounds (like the sound of rain) and being exposed to certain scents can reduce symptoms of stress [1][2]. Even just a brief viewing of an urban park or exposure to the sounds of a natural environment, particularly the sound of rain or running water help alleviate stress symptoms [3][4]. Furthermore, a study using an aromatherapy uncovered a significant reduction in participants’ cortisol levels after inhaling certain essential oil aromas [5].

These findings, along with the effectiveness of the Bukit Jalil Urban Park study in Malaysia and the urban woodland study in Finland, inspired us to create RainScape [3][6].

Targeting the senses of sight, touch, hearing and scent, RainScape is a playful, mmersive experience where users can collaborate to interact with and manipulate a simulated space, designed to reflect the relaxing ambience of being in a natural environment such as the forest in the rain

The environment will involve a dark room and imagery of a forest projected on the wall, immersing users in the natural environment. Playful interactions will further this by allowing users to manipulate the simulation.

For example, squeezing a cloud stress ball results in rain falling on the wall and in the projected video. This will be paired with the sound of rain and a fresh scent. Depending on how hard the user squeezes, the rain will intensity, furthermore, if a user stomps their feet on the immersive floor, this will generate the sound of thunder and visuals of lightning.

RainScape can offer an opportunity to relax and escape from the stress of busy lives and work in the bustling city. We imagine our project would be effective placed in easily-accessible, urban public spaces such as office buildings and train stations, allowing users to experience the benefits of a natural landscape without leaving the city.

This project enhances emotions and reactions while simultaneously, exploring the influence of our actions on our surroundings, inviting users to consider their relationship with nature by making the abstract concept of environmental impact playful, tangible and immediate.


[1] J. Gu, H. Liu and H. Lu, “Can Even a Small Amount of Greenery Be Helpful in Reducing Stress? A Systematic Review,” Int J Environ Res Public Health, vol. 19, no. 16, 9 August 2022. 

[2]  J. Zhang, H. Yan and D. Wang, “Effects of Acoustic Environment Types on Stress Relief in Urban Parks,” Int J Environ Res Public Health, vol. 20, no. 2, 2023. 

[3] N. A. A. Aziz, L. Y. Shian, M. D. M. Mokhtar, T. L. Raman, F. H. Saikim, W. Chen and N. M. Nordin, “Effectiveness of urban green space on undergraduates' stress relief in tropical city: A field experiment in Kuala Lumpur,” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, vol. 63, 2021. 

[4] Y. Guo, X. Jiang, L. Zhang, H. Zhang, Z. Jiang and ', “Effects of Sound Source Landscape in Urban Forest Park on Alleviating Mental Stress of Visitors: Evidence from Huolu Mountain Forest Park, Guangzhou,” Sustainability, vol. 14, no. 22, 2022. 

[5] R. Schneider, “There Is Something in the Air: Testing the Efficacy of a new Olfactory Stress Relief Method (AromaStick®),” Stress Health, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 411-426, 2016. 

[6]L. Tyrväinen, A. Ojala, K. Korpela, T. Lanki, Y. Tsunetsugu and T. Kagawa, “The influence of urban green environments on stress relief measures: A field experiment,” Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 38, pp. 1-9, 2014. 

Technical Description

Rainfall and Water System 💧

Cloud Stress Balls 🌧️

Our final cloud prototype was created using fabric, cotton and sponge. After user-testing we found our original sewn prototype was too large and the sensor moved around too much and got lost amongst the cotton. Our final prototype included a smaller cloud that was easier for users to grip and encased the sensor in sponge to improve the surface area. The pressure sensor is powered by an Arduino system connected to Unity which allows us to collect pressure readings and control the rainfall intensity and audio. In addition, we replicated the system and combined them to make the experience collaborative for numerous users.

Thunder and Lightning 🌩️

To create the thunder and lightning we used a similar technology as before utilising sensors, an Arduino board, an LED light strip and Unity. When a user steps on the floor tile, this triggers thunder (Unity sound recording) and lightning (LED strip flashing). Depending on the intensity of the step, the thunder and lightning varies in volume and intensity.

Video and diffuser 💨

To improve the experience of immersion for users, we projected a video of a calming natural landscape. This was done using Unity to loop the video and combine it with our existing code. We also have included a USB-powered diffuser, plugged into our laptop which disperses the fresh scent of rain throughout the space. Together, these features complement our existing interactions and target the user’s visual and olfactory senses to improve the immersion.