Aceable wants to teach teenagers how to drive using virtual reality.
Austin, Texas-based Aceable has integrated 360-degree VR videos into all of its mobile drivers education products. And it has made the videos available for free on YouTube to encourage safer driving. Students can now practice real-life driving situations, such as checking blind spots, being distracted by texts, and navigating yield situations in a safe VR environment — all before they actually get behind the wheel of a live vehicle.
The VR videos are an extension of Aceable’s existing Drivers Ed course, which is available as a mobile app. That app has more than 300,000 users to date.
“In 2016 we saw some of the largest increases in car-related deaths in more than 40 years. Many of these deaths came as a result of distracted and teen drivers,” said Blake Garrett, founder and CEO of Aceable, in a statement. “While there is a lot of talk about texting and driving, there have been few attempts to use technology to address the issue. As a response, Aceable is focusing on using the latest tech innovations to give student drivers a chance to experience these potential dangers in a safe environment and prepare them to make better choices about safe driving.”
Aceable’s 360 videos are available to any student using Aceable’s previously launched Drivers Ed course app on a smartphone. Users can play the video in the application and then move the phone to view a 360-degree animated experience that simulates driving a vehicle. Or they can pair their smartphones with a virtual reality adapter for their phone — such as Google Cardboard, Samsung VR, or any of the other low-cost third-party products — to watch the videos in a true VR environment.
“VR and 360 video might seem like a gimmick at first, but the minute a student or parent experiences the system, the value becomes apparent,” Garrett said. “We wanted to reach teens where they are and on a platform that interests them to really get our message across. It’s actually pretty amazing how well it works and how entertaining it is.”
All of Aceable’s Drivers Ed and Defensive Driving courses can be accessed through the Aceable app available for download on iTunes/Android Play Store or online at Aceable.
Aceable was founded in 2012 and it has 68 employees. The company has raised $9 million to date from angels and other investors.