"Prepare For Impact" App Teaches Passengers How To Survive Plane Crashes To Ease Their Fears

Most of us tune out the flight attendants' lecture before the plane takes off — you already know how to use a seatbelt, right? But those boring old aircraft safety pamphlets located in your front seat pocket may soon turn high-tech in the form of an app that prepares passengers to survive plane crashes. The Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCI Lab) of the University of Udine, Italy has created Prepare For Impact, a free 3D smartphone app available for Android and Apple devices. The app invites you to “try your abilities in worst-case scenarios,” ranging from runway collisions to cabin decompression, water landings, and fire.

Flying is actually one of the safest forms of travel, and the chances of being involved in a plane crash are extremely low — even for the most frequent flyer. Statistically speaking, a person would need to take one flight a day for 55,000 years before being involved in a serious crash, according to M.I.T's Arnold Barnett. However, it is still important to know what to do in case of an emergency. 90 percent of airborne accidents are survivable, according to the European Transport Safety Council. Having a handle on safety procedures, such as correctly bracing for impact and knowing what to do in case of fire and smoke, will only increase those odds.

The app turns learning survival skills into recreation, "people can familiarize themselves with aircraft emergencies by playing ‘what-if’ scenarios, choosing their own actions, and seeing their positive or negative consequences realistically depicted by a 3D game," professor Luca Chittaro, director of the HCI Lab, said in a press release.

If you are afraid of flying, playing a game involving multiple realistic nightmarish situations may seem like the worst thing to do, but research says it can actually help. The press release sites a study published in the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics that supports their cause. In the study, participants either used a basic mobile app or the classic safety card to learn the correct bracing position for a hard landing. Ninety percent of the mobile app group learned the right procedure, compared to only 33 percent of participants using the card. Those who used the app were also "less fatalistic about aircraft emergencies, feeling that the outcomes of an emergency landing were more under their control." So if you have to self-medicate every time before flying, consider downloading this app.

Prepare For Impact is certainly informative, though a bit more terrifying than the pleasant demonstration given by flight attendants on how to tighten the straps of an oxygen mask while the plane is safely anchored to the ground. It has a high rating on both platforms, with great customer reviews. One review called it a "great education tool," and stated that "As an airline crew member, I love this game! All passengers should be required to play it before flying. Would love to see more scenarios added in following updates!"

Warning: playing out these airplane emergency scenarios may make you search for the bar cart and thirst for a tiny plastic bottle of wine to ease the nerves. You can download the app for Apple devices here and get it on Google Play here — so that next time you prepare for takeoff, you are truly prepared.

Watch the entire teaser video bellow:

HCILabUdine on YouTube

Images: PrepareForImpact/HCIlab, HCIlabUdine/YouTube