Life-saving virtual reality

How an award-winning campaign uses VR to teach the dangers of real-life traffic 

In the Netherlands, 10% of traffic accident victims are younger than 14. The main reason is that these young road users are inexperienced. We questioned: how could Samsung give these youngsters the means to experience cycling on real roads without getting into danger? The answer lies in virtual reality (VR). The Beat the Street campaign aspires to give young road users the experience necessary to stay safe in traffic through an app and VR goggles.

Each day, tens of thousands of children in the Netherlands ride their bikes to school – it’s part of Dutch culture. From the age of nine onwards, Dutch children ride independently. As they take different routes to secondary schools and sports clubs, the distances widen with the years. Yet, at the same time, these young people are not yet fully accustomed to traffic. For instance, what would you do when riding your bike in the blind spot of a truck taking a turn? Your friends have already crossed the road. Do you pass the truck swiftly and re-join your friends before they are too far ahead? Or would it be better to wait?

The right reaction to this possibly life threatening situation is something you can’t learn in theory. With the aim to reduce the number of accidents, Samsung and Veilig Verkeer Nederland (Transportation Safety Board) joined forces to develop the Beat the Street campaign: virtual reality is used to let secondary school students experience various traffic scenarios and their impact as if in real life. In a playful manner the kids become aware of the dangers involved in traffic. They learn to understand what may happen if they use their smartphones on the road, or what could happen if they truly end up in the blind spot of a truck taking a turn.

Beat the Street

The Beat the Street VR app mimics real-life traffic situations. When wearing Gear VR goggles it’s like you are actually in traffic. Just like in real life, decisions must be made in a split second, resulting in immediate feedback. That way, you instantly know if you made the right choice. If so, you go to the next level in the game; if not, you are “hit” and the situation starts over.

Beat the Street was first launched for secondary school students of the IJssel College in Capelle near Rotterdam. These students were the first to experience the app before a roadshow brought the campaign to other secondary schools in the Netherlands. Furthermore, it became part of the standard training programme of Veilig Verkeer Nederland. All schools throughout the country were informed about the possibility to apply for a Beat the Street package through the campaign website, which was highly successful in the Netherlands. So far over 15,000 people have downloaded the Beat the Street app.

Road safety first at Samsung

In 2017, Samsung’s efforts to decrease the number of traffic accidents continue. While Beat the Street grew people’s awareness for all sorts of dangers involved in traffic, its new ‘In-Traffic Reply’ app automatically answers all incoming messages when you’re driving. People who download In-Traffic Reply decide to which notifications the app replies in either a funny video or a personalised message. The app can reply to any messages from WhatsApp, FB messenger, Phone and Messages. This way, Samsung is actively fighting smartphone-distraction on the road. As for smartphone-use – at Samsung we strongly advise to keep it in your pocket while in traffic, so you can’t be distracted.

The Beat the Street campaign won in the Technology & Consumer Electronics category of the 2016 European Excellence Awards, which are hosted by Communication Director. You can find the full winners' list here

Image: Samsung

Cella Sin

Cella Sin started at Samsung Electronics in 2012 as a trainee and has developed her career within one of the biggest tech companies in the world specialising in public relations. As public relations manager of Samsung in the Netherlands, she is in the lead for all public relations activities and in charge of the overall public relations strategy, corporate reputation management and issues management.