Researchers at the University of Georgia hope that the metaverse could save lives in the event of a real disaster.
The university is testing a simulated hurricane with residents off the coast of Georgia.
The goal is for people to see the dangerous effects of storms, such as wind, rain, and storm surge, without risking their lives. Then, in the event of an actual evacuation, homeowners would be more willing to respond.
Dr. Sun Joo ‘Grace’ Ahn is an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia. His team is working on a simulation and study called “Hurricane World.”
“The more practice and experience you have in a realistic situation; it helps us better prepare for these events,” Ahn told Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan.
After a quick introduction, Monahan lived through the experience.
The metaverse differs from other virtual realities, such as video games, because it involves almost all of your senses.
The simulation begins inside a beach house. Monahan got a feel for the area and learned the layout. They are then navigated to the ‘bedroom’ where the television warns of the impending storm.
Everything seems normal until suddenly…
“My strength is gone. I can see things starting to go downhill,” Monahan said as he walked through the simulation. “I’m starting to realize that I made a bad decision hanging out here along the coast when the storm came.”
Researchers are trying to reduce the tendency to ignore warnings.
“If the perceived threat is too high, people will essentially avoid the message. They don’t want to deal with it if it’s overwhelming,” Ahn told Monahan.
Suddenly, the simulated window breaks, the glass shatters.
“The glass broke, I actually felt and feel like I’m in the storm right now,” Monahan said.
Channel 2 Action News spoke with Georgia Emergency Management Agency meteorologist Will Lanxton.
He explained that in these situations, people don’t understand the risk.
“You always hear stories of people who have gone through something and say, ‘I’ll never do that again.’ Lanxton said. “I think it’s going to help people imagine these things and get through them without actually putting their lives on the line. It can be very helpful to understand what the risk is.”
After the study off the coast of Georgia, UGA plans to work on simulations of onshore weather events such as flash floods and tornadoes.
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