TPWD Unveils Virtual Reality Boater App at Houston Boat and Car Show

Media Contact: TPWD News Business Hours, 512-389-8030

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Novices can learn safety basics before they step onto a boat.

HOUSTON – The latest classroom for boating education is virtual reality. In a nationwide first, the TPWD boater education program will utilize VR headsets to introduce audiences to the joy of sailing where wind, waves and actions all impact the boat’s behavior. While immersed in a highly realistic environment, participants will learn about different types of sailboats, parts of the boat and steering basics. The virtual reality sailing course is part of the MarineVerse app, one of the online training courses offered by Nautic Ed.

Individuals interested in experiencing boating in a virtual reality course will have the opportunity to try it out first-hand at the Houston Boat and Auto Show Jan. 25–29 at NRG Center. Texas Game Wardens and boater education personnel will be on hand at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) education area to administer VR headsets and assist attendees with the sailing experience. The course includes a safety briefing and slipping into a life jacket. Audience members may follow along on a monitor that projects everything the participant encounters in their virtual experience.

“The sailing course offers a fully immersive experience that places the participant in the driver’s seat of the boat,” said Kimberly Sorensen, TPWD boater education manager. “While the full boating education course is not available on the app, it’s a fun introduction to safety and sailing. Utilizing new advancements like virtual reality not only engages new generations but reminds everyone that completing boater education is necessary in Texas.”

Anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, who is interested in getting behind the wheel of a motorboat with greater than 15 horsepower or a personal watercraft or sailboat more than 14 feet in length is required to successfully complete a boater education course.

Representatives from Texas State Parks, Texas Outdoor Family, angler education, archery education, human resources and coastal fisheries will also provide fun activities for the entire family.

Visit the boater education website for more information.