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Research at the University of Nottingham has concluded that using virtual reality (VR) can improve safety training.


The University of Nottingham Human Factors Research group created a VR system to explore how participants in the study could deal with evacuating a burning building.


In the training scenario, VR wearers had to evacuate a virtual office that was on fire. To make the simulations seem more real, as well as the visual images and audio, heaters made then feel the heat, and a diffuser gave out a smoke smell. The groups experiencing this fully immerse simulation were compared to a group that only received audio and visual stimulation. The full immersion group reacted better to the scenario compared to the audio visual-only group.


In real-world fire situations, there is often a lack of understanding of how fire spreads and there can be wrong decisions about which actions to take. VR training prepares people for emergency situations without putting them at risk.


The study group also compared VR training to traditional training using PowerPoint slides. A group trained with PowerPoint did gain sufficient knowledge but tended to forget what they had been taught after a week. The VR grouped retained their knowledge longer.


The group aims to publish evidence-based guidance for using virtual environments in safety training. VR can be used to teach the correct use of PPE (personal protective equipment) and put people in simulated emergency situations without the training itself being a safety risk.

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