Researchers at the University of Georgia hope the metaversion will help save lives when a real disaster strikes.
University tests simulated hurricane with residents on Georgia coast.
The goal is to allow people to see the dangerous effects of a storm, 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. Her team is working on a simulation and study called “Hurricane World.”
“The more practice and experience you have in a realistic situation; it helps you better prepare for these events,” Ahn told Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan.
After a quick demonstration, Monahan went through the experience.
Metaverse is different from other virtual reality like video games because it involves almost all of your senses.
The simulation starts inside the beach house. Monahan got a feel for the area and learned the layout. He is then navigated to a “bedroom” where a television warns of an incoming storm.
Everything seems normal until suddenly…
“I just ran out of energy. I can see it starting to go downhill,” Monahan said as he walked through the simulation. “I’m starting to realize I made a bad decision hanging out here along the coast when the storm is coming.
The tendency to ignore warnings is something researchers are working on.
“If the perceived threat is too high, then people will basically start avoiding the message. They don’t want to deal with it if it’s overwhelming,” Ahn told Monahan.
Suddenly the simulated window shatters, the glass shatters.
“The breaking of the glass, I really felt and feel like I was in a storm,” Monahan said.
Channel 2 Action News spoke with Georgia Emergency Management Agency meteorologist Will Lanxton.
He explained in these types of situations, people may not understand the risk.
“You hear stories all the time of people who have gone through something and say to themselves, ‘I’ll never do it again.’ Lanxton said. “I think it will help people visualize those things and go through it without actually risking their lives. It can be very helpful to understand what the risk is.”
Following the study on the Georgia coast, UGA plans to work on simulations for inland weather phenomena such as flash floods and tornadoes.
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