The solution to staying safe could lie in the virtual world

Virtual reality

Whilst many of us escape into virtual worlds as a fun diversion, University of Adelaide Researchers believe the secret to teaching people to behave safely and act decisively in the real world can also be found amongst online realms.

Virtual Reality (VR) worlds can be environments as engaging and realistic as the real world. The detail and accuracy now possible can prompt behaviour that’s close to the way we act in real life.

Researchers Steve Cook (Media)and Associate Professor Edward Palmer (Education) are investigating how experiences and training that occur in virtual worlds can transfer to real life.

“Typically, training experiences vary significantly from person to person and trainer to trainer, employers need to know that when their employees are being trained that those experiences can be leveraged to the real world and that the skills learned will be retained and applied, when necessary,” Associate Professor Palmer says.

“The motivation for this research is to find more efficient training exercises that are safe, can be easily repeated and provide meaningful data to employers and employees,” says Mr Cook, head of the newly created Extended Realities business unit.

The team constructs interactive Virtual Reality Environments (VREs) with real world characteristics. Within these they can measure how immersed a user becomes along with how much they learn.

These results let them determine which characteristics are most important in virtual scenarios leading to more efficient spending of virtual training budgets.

What’s next?

VR has potential benefits way beyond training. Mr Cook, Associate Professor Palmer, and their teams, are exploring new frontiers in VR’s role in research into pain diversion and movement therapies, through to better understanding patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

The future of not only education, but also rehabilitation, movement analytics, remote robotics, and medicine will be found in worlds outside of our own.

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