Afraid of bear attacks? This VR simulator will help you survive

Can you fight off a bear like the one in The Revenant?


The Revenant/Video screenshot by Nic Healy/CNET

The next time you hike in the woods, will you know what to do when a not-so-friendly bear decides to say hello? 

Since not all bears can be scared away using the same technique, a new virtual reality simulator called VR Bear Safety Training Program offers practical pointers depending on the breed of bear you encounter. 

Made by VR Training Solutions, this new interactive experience simulates an actual bear encounter, so you don’t have to practice your survival skills on the real thing.

While wearing VR goggles and holding a controller (to stand in for bear spray), players will see themselves inside a digital forest where the software simulates a bear encounter in the woods, complete with sound effects of the trees and the bear itself.

When players are spotted by a bear, it charges quickly. At that point, the players must decide which actions to take — such as making noise or using their bear spray — before the bear reaches them. 

Bear spray is proven to be highly successful at stopping aggressive behavior in bears, according to Yellowstone National Park Services

By learning from the VR program when to wave their arms or when to take cover, players should develop muscle memory as well as hone critical thinking skills in a time-sensitive situation. 

“If you’re able to practice when you know what could happen and you have in your mind what could happen and what you need to do, then you’re going to be better prepared [in real life],” Kelly O’Neil, CEO of VR Safety Training Solutions, told CBC News on June 9.

The training program also includes detailed information on identifying bears by their breed, understanding bear signs and tracks, as well as what to actually do when you cross paths with a bear in the wilderness. 

In addition to bears, VR Training Solutions also has more VR programs in the works on how to be safe around coyotes, cougars and polar bears. 

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