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Would You Exit Pursued By A Virtual Bear in This VR Training Scenario?

Virtual reality (VR) can be used for all kinds of educational and training scenarios, from teaching children about the solar system, to helping mechanics learn the ins and outs of an aircraft. Can it be used to help people avoid bear attacks? One company is trying to find out.

For most people, the chances of coming face-to-face with an angry grizzly bear isn’t the sort of scenario they have to concern themselves with. For some people, however, knowing what to do in that situation could very literally be a life-saver.

A tech firm in Prince George, British Columbia is hoping to use VR to help train people in how to respond to the scenario where a 270-kilogram bear is hurtling towards you. In particular, they company is hoping that using VR will help those teaching stay in place in people’s minds.

“We realized that a lot of the training you have to take is a little bit mind numbing, and we thought there must a better way to teach and a more effective way to teach,” said Kelly O’Neil, CEO of VR Safety Training Solutions.

Participants don a HTC Vive headset and enter into what appears to be an idyllic woodland scene, complete with sound effects such as birds tweeting. The player is quickly spotted by a bear, who charges towards the player with amazing speed, so the player needs to deploy the bear spray before it is too late.

O’Neil says the VR experience was created to replicate the experience of a bear attack in a way impossible in a classroom environment, giving the participants the chance to practice in a safe way.

“That’s part of our goal, was that people would get that feeling [of fear],” O’Neil said, “If you’re able to practice when you know what could happen and you have in your mind what could happen and what you need to do, then you’re going to be better prepared [in real life].”

For future coverage of new and innovative uses of VR technology, keep checking back with VRFocus.