A mobile app that simulates being in a plane crash sounds like the stuff of nightmares – but instead of trying to scare you off flying for life it's actually intended to teach people what to do when disaster strikes on-board, helping nervous fliers.
Prepare for Impact, created by HCI Labs, is a first-person mobile game where worst-case scenarios such as fires, decompression, collisions or water crash landings are presented to players – and they have to decide what action to take.
It might look like a video game but it's harrowingly realistic, with you moving through cabins filling with smoke and seeing the consequences of your choices. You control your passenger using the touchscreen as you're guided to your seat, then as the flight progresses you might see an engine blow up outside the window or another plane come crashing into yours.
The app is quick to point out that aircraft emergencies are incredibly rare but it's a frightening realisation to all the things that could go wrong – even stuff you've never thought of.
But this hasn't been developed for the fun of putting the ghoulies up people, it has been built in conjunction with an international aviation safety research project aimed at exploring possible new approaches to safety education.
A training tool for nervous fliers
With few passengers taking the time to study safety cards or even look up during pre-flight safety demonstrations, this interactive simulation could be the ticket to increasing awareness for emergency procedures. HCI Labs conducted an experiment of how smartphones could be more effective than traditional safety cards by using two groups to learn the brace position. They claim 90% of the group who used an app got the position spot-on, while only 33% using traditional methods adopted it correctly.
If queasy fliers are still reading this with hands over their eyes, they might be interested to hear that the developers believe using the Prepare for Impact app could help after some in the focus group reported positive results. "The app had a positive effect on attitudes. After using the app, participants were less fatalistic about aircraft emergencies, feeling that the outcomes of an emergency landing were more under their control."
To give your nerves a go the app is available for free on Android and iOS devices.