Evaluation of the Effect of VR Disaster Experience in Familiar Environment
Authors: Wataru Asaba, Kimi Ueda, Hirotake Ishii, Hiroshi Shimoda
Abstract: The number of natural disasters has been increasing in recent decades, and the amount of damage becomes enormous. To reduce the damage, it is crucial that people become more aware of disaster prevention and takes action for disaster prevention and mitigation. As disaster education to raise awareness, a method using virtual reality (VR) has been attractive because the VR disaster experience is more realistic than a video showing the scene of a disaster and requires less equipment than a simulated experience using a quake simulator. It can also reproduce disasters that are difficult to experience in reality, such as fire. However, in conventional VR disaster experience systems, it is possible to experience only a specific environment that the designer has selected and created in advance. The environment is often different from that in which users spend their everyday lives. Therefore, it was difficult to feel a sense of reality and fear that a disaster might actually occur. In addition, from the viewpoint of reviewing disaster countermeasures, there were few points that could be used as references. In order to solve this problem, the authors have developed a system that automatically creates a VR space that enables users to experience a disaster based on images captured by cameras. This system makes it very easy to experience disasters in the environment, which they spend everyday lives in, constructed from pictures taken by them. Moreover, it may raise awareness of disaster prevention. It is not clear, however, to what extent the experience of a disaster in a familiar environment is effective, or how the psychology of the experiencers changes when they experience a disaster in a familiar environment.The purpose of this study is therefore to evaluate whether the users’ awareness of disaster prevention improve when they experience the VR disaster experience in a familiar environment like their own room. In this study, earthquake and fire are treated as disasters to be experienced.In the experiment, participants were asked to take pictures of the room in which the participant spend their most of everyday lives, and to experience virtual earthquake and fire in the room created from the pictures and in the non-familiar environment. After experiencing each disaster experience environment, they were asked to answer a questionnaire about their awareness of disaster prevention, which included a sense of reality, a sense of fear, a sense of familiar environment, communication intention, disaster risk perception, anxiety and disaster prevention behavioral intention. The results were used to compare the effects of each disaster experience environment on the awareness of disaster prevention.The results of the evaluation experiment showed the possibility that the familiar environment can trigger participants to imagine that a disaster will actually happen to them, and can increase their awareness of disaster prevention. On the other hand, the results also suggested the possibility that participants are more likely to notice unnatural places in the experience such as objects’ movement in earthquake and the origin of fire because it was very familiar environment for them.
Keywords: Virtual Reality, Disaster Experience, Psychology, Disaster Prevention
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