In 2013 there were a recorded 6,740 hospital admissions for dog bites and strikes which has inspired a team at the University of Liverpool to create a new virtual reality (VR) experience to educate the public on this matter. Designed and developed to be used as an educational tool to help prevent dog bites, the experience provides adults and children with information to help them recognise specific behaviors that are displayed by dogs which could result in bites.
Developed by animal behavior researchers from the University of Liverpool in the UK, the VR experience has users approach and interact with dogs that are displaying signs of aggression in a safe and controlled way. Thanks to the high quality environments and believable behavior of the dogs within the experience, users will feel as though they are really there and become truly immersed within the setting.
As users approach the VR dog, its behavior and body language gradually change and it begins to display signs of aggression, including licking its lips, lowering its head and body, growling and showing teeth. These behaviors show when a dog may not want to be approached and as a result, users should not engage with the dog as this will lower the chance of it biting them.
“This proof of concept tool has already demonstrated that immersive experiences can be used by organisations such as Dogs Trust as an educational tool which can be conducted in a safe environment and that there is value in developing tools of this nature further.” Reads the statement from the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC).
“Next steps will look to enhance the detail within the immersive environment, in partnership with animal behavioural specialists and psychologists to ensure the simulation is as realistic and provides the highest level of immersive experience as possible.”
By placing users in a safe virtual environment to learn how to handle a dog that is displaying aggressive behavior, the research team is hoping to educate people as to lower the number of biting incidents. The applications of the experience could be expanded to help with other dog related matters as well but for now the team are keen to build on their current focus. You can see a short video of the experience below.
VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest on the project in the future so keep reading to stay up to date on any developments.