UA researchers hope virtual reality will help calm severe weathe - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

UA researchers hope virtual reality will help calm severe weather fears

Source: Josh Gauntt/WBRC Source: Josh Gauntt/WBRC
Source: Josh Gauntt/WBRC Source: Josh Gauntt/WBRC
TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) -

Five years after one of the deadliest tornadoes ripped through Tuscaloosa and other parts of Alabama, people are still dealing with the emotional and physical effects.

"A large number of people still have a low level anxiety with it,” Dr. Laura Myers, Executive Director of the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS) said.

Researchers with the university’s CAPS program continue to fine tune their virtual reality tornado simulator. A person puts on goggles and virtually walks through a home during a tornado emergency.

"What really has done it is having the sound part of it. Having the TV broadcaster on television talking about what is happening, what people need to do, hearing the sirens that’s created a reaction in everybody that's been through it,” Myers said.

Dr. Myers and her team hope this exposure therapy in a safe environment will help ease severe weather fears and help people know what to do if they go under a severe weather warning.

"That anxiety can lead people to freeze up and not be able to do what they need to do to protect themselves. That’s the goal, to help them reduce that anxiety to be able to think more clearly in that situation,” Myers said.
 
The testing is still in the early phases but could be in the beta portion with focus groups using it in a few months. We’re told this type of technology could end up on smartphones giving us another tool to prepare ahead of the storm.

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