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AR / VR, News, Technology, Virtual Reality

VR For Disaster Preparedness

Abhinav Raj

Abhinav Raj, Writer
@uxconnections

The University of South Australia is leveraging virtual reality (VR) tools to equip the youngest citizens of the country with survival skills in an immersive yet safe environment.

With the Metaverse dominating the headlines, virtual reality (VR) seems to be growing more newsworthy—but there’s much more going on in the VR space than tech journos could hope to stay on top of. 

Researchers at the University of South Australia have developed a new VR experience aimed at educating children to help build disaster resilience. 

An ‘immersive virtual environment’ will aid children from ages 10 to 12 develop problem-solving skills through digital storytelling and interactive assignments which are critical to staying safe in incidents of bushfire—which have become an all-too-regular occurrence in the Australian continent. 

The virtual reality visors simulate a lifelike bushfire incident as the children look after a dog. The children must navigate through a series of problem-solving tasks as they progress through the experience while learning to keep themselves (and the dog) safe in the event of an emergency. 

Image: Stem 24. L on Unsplash

The research found that over 80% of the children participating reported feeling more confident in their ability to make intelligent decisions to protect themselves in the event of a bushfire emergency after the VR experience. The researchers find it worth noting that about 91% of the respondents had no prior experience or knowledge of handling emergencies involving fire. 

“VR has enormous potential to teach children about emergencies. As digital natives, they are engaged by technology, so when it’s immersive—as it is with VR—they can experience events realistically, yet within safe parameters,” commented Professor Delene Weber, the supervisor of the study. 

The study appears in the Journal of Educational Computing

VR technology can help prepare the next generation for climate emergencies by influencing behaviour and eliciting specific responses to environments as suggested by human behavioural research. 

So whether you’re in the workplace or the middle of a bushfire emergency—VR can help you make better decisions when it counts. 

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