Coming up with innovative ideas to effectively engage with local communities is always a challenge for fire and rescue services but we have recently invested in a road safety initiative using the latest technology on the market, to produce a 360° film, watched through virtual reality (VR) headsets. The VF4360 is the latest development of our Virtual Fatal Four (VF4) road safety education package, aimed at reducing deaths and serious injuries in young drivers. Developing the concept of an experience inside a crash simulator VF4 car, the VF4360 experience takes immersive education to a whole new level using VR and we are the first fire and rescue service in the UK and Europe to adopt this latest technology for this kind of work.
Why VR road safety?
A high proportion of road traffic collisions involving new and young drivers happen on our roads due to one or more of the Fatal Four (speeding, using mobile devices, drink/drug driving, driving without a seatbelt). To improve road safety and reduce vehicle collisions in young drivers, the Service is investing significantly into educating potential drivers by creating an awareness of the dangers before they even get behind the wheel. Introducing an initiative like the VF4 360 has enabled the Service to engage with new and young drivers in a more realistic and effective way which in turn, will hopefully lead to more, safer new drivers on the roads in the future.
VF4 360 Experience: Virtual Reality
Not to be confused with 3D (in which commercial success has been limited) VR has been around for longer than you might imagine. What we are now seeing is a push from the big technology companies towards VR in the film industry and gaming market with the availability of affordable VR headsets, which enable wearers to experience realistic situations inside virtual, but convincing, surroundings. Simply by moving their heads, wearers have complete 360° vision within the virtual environment that they are watching, making their experience and ultra-realistic one. Adopting this technology at such an early stage of its commercial availability, has enabled us to become leaders in the service we provide, by providing a highly engaging, effective road safety education product that our target audience wants to experience.
The reality of VR
The effects of VR are quite surreal. Once the viewer commits to the VR experience and put the headset on, they will be transferred into a virtual world created by either 360° film or using CGI animation. Even with the same clip, no two experiences will ever be the same. The viewer chooses where to look and what to listen to, creating an ultra realistic, unique experience. For the length of time the film plays the viewer is completely unaware of their external surroundings or anyone watching them. VR can be so convincing that once immersed, viewers can often be seen interacting with VR situations; verbally and physically, because they believe what they are experiencing is actually happening to them.
How we can help
We want to reach as many young drivers as possible with this unique educational resource, so if you want to book the VF4 360 or want to find out more about our immersive virtual reality experience, please get in touch. We are always happy to help.