Hurricanes in the metaverse could save lives in reality

Researchers at the University of Georgia hope that the Metaverse will help save lives when a real disaster occurs.

The university is testing a simulated hurricane with residents on the 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 a proper evacuation, owners would be more prepared to respond.

Dr. Sun Joo ‘Grace’ Ahn is Associate Professor at the University of Georgia. Her team is working on the simulation and study called “Hurricane World.”

“The more practice and experience you have in a realistic situation; helps you better prepare for these events,” Ahn said. Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan.

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After a quick demonstration, Monahan went through the ordeal.

The Metaverse is different from other virtual reality like video games because it involves almost all of your senses.

The simulation begins in a beach house. Monahan got a feel for the area and learned the layout. He is then navigated to the “bedroom” where the television warns of the approaching storm.

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Everything seems normal until suddenly…

“My power just went out. I can see things starting to go downhill,” Monahan said as he moved through the simulation. “I’m starting to see I made a bad decision hanging out here along the coast as the storm comes in.”

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The tendency to ignore warnings is something researchers are working to reduce.

“If the perceived threat is too high, then people essentially start to avoid the message. They don’t want to deal with it if it’s overwhelming,” Ahn told Monahan.

Suddenly the simulated window breaks, shattering the glass.

“The glass breaks, I really felt and felt like I’m in the storm,” Monahan said.

Channel 2 Action News spoke with Georgia Emergency Management Agency meteorologist Will Lanxton.

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He explained in these types of situations, people cannot understand the risk.

“You hear stories all the time of people who have been through something and they’re like, I’m never going to do that again.” Lanxton said. “I think this will help people visualize these things and go through it without actually putting their lives at risk. It can be very helpful to understand what the risk is.

After the study on Georgia’s coast, UGA has plans to work on simulations for inland weather events such as flash floods and tornadoes.

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