Improving motorcycle safety on Texas roadways with virtual reality
Like many departments of transportation (DOT) around the country, the Texas DOT (TXDOT) spends a significant portion of their budget each year educating local residents on everything motorcycle awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving. A small increase in the effectiveness of this training can go along way. Working with CM&D, TXDOT was able to create one of their most successful event activations ever, all thanks to the power of VR.
Develop an event activation that engages with audiences young and old to help improve the safety of motorcyclists on Texas roadways.
CM&D designed and developed a two-part interactive VR experience that allows users to relive the top three scenarios where motorcyclists are injured on Texas roadways.
The final VR experiences became one of TXDOT’s most effective and enjoyed safety awareness activations ever.
Why Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality’s ability to fully immersive a user in a scene, creating a sense presence, is one of the technology’s most impressive attributes. When done correctly, your mind believes what you are seeing to be true. Leveraging this unique aspect of VR, TXDOT was able to give users a true sense of what it’s like to be a motorcyclist, improving driver’s empathy and alertness towards motorcycle riders.
Immersive Brand Strategy
Working alongside TXDOT’s agency of record, CM&D helped design two VR experiences that would be part of a larger public awareness campaign. Not to overlook the unique challenges posed by hot Texas summers and our societies even waning attention span.
Not only did the experiences need to align with the campaign’s larger goals and design aesthetics, they also posed a few unique design challenges of there own. The VR environments needed to align with physical 3D objects (a Chevy Camaro and a Harley Davidson motorcycle), as well as be built from 2D templates. Leveraging ‘gaze-based’ interactivity, the two final experiences were also easy to use, even for first-time VR participants.
360 Video Production
TXDOT wanted to make this experience feel as real as possible, asking that the background (or environment in VR speak) be actual Texas highway. This required the blending of live-action 360 videos and interactive VR environments. More on that below…It was also determined the live 360 video footage should be filmed on open Texas roadways to help improve authenticity. CM&D created two custom 360 video camera solutions (one for a car and one for a motorcycle helmet) and partnered with a few professional drivers to accomplish the task and get the job done.
Virtual Reality Development
The final 360 video footage was moved into the Unity 3D game engine where all of the interactive and gamification components were added. In the car-based experience, users are awarded points based on how effective they are at spotting motorcycles in high-risk scenarios. In the motorcycle-based experience, users get to relive the three dangerous scenarios posed in the first activation, giving non-riders a chance to feel what it’s like to be on a bike in risky situations.
Distribution Strategy & Development
TXDOT knew the final experiences would be used in a live event setting, but were sure how to best make it happen. Working with CM&D, they were able to create and execute a plan that made efficient use of the two VR pieces in an event setting, worked well in Texas summer heat, and even engaged with people not in the headsets. The experience went on to be one of the most successful motorcycle awareness campaigns the agency has ever produced.
Immersive Brand Activations
To help make it all happen, CM&D provided TXDOT, their agency and local event teams with hardware support and procurement, technical training, and a custom live streaming solution so the VR headset feeds could be broadcast to onsite TVs and projectors. Donuts served.