Microsoft Develops Virtual Reality For Disaster Response

Iakov Filimonov/

What's the best way to evacuate a building during an earthquake? VR can show you.

Scaling virtual reality up from smaller scenarios is a major goal for video game developers. According to Engadget, Microsoft is also looking to expand virtual reality beyond the size of a living room for a different reason entirely: disaster response.

Microsoft Research released a video detailing how it's reconstructing entire buildings within virtual reality to teach people how to respond to different disaster scenarios—like floods or earthquakes—because each requires different sets of actions and evacuation plans.

To recreate an entire interiors in VR, Microsoft unleashed a robot equipped with laser-range sensors, RGB depth camera and a 4K panoramic image camera, into a building. As the robot moves around physical objects, it automatically scans them. Then, in the simulation, the building and those objects can be manipulated to create dangerous scenarios, which VR users can experience safely. 

Microsoft plans to expand on this project, to work on an even larger scale with public buildings like museums.