The shock factor experiences were developed into two specific categories… Virtual Reality and Real Experiences (because there is nothing virtual about reality).

Virtual Experiences

As series of virtual reality (VR) experiences were created and the best ones chosen for use in the Shock Factor Research. To compliment the VR, physical experiences were also incorporated to add physical motion to the surprise. Safety first of course so every subject wore a safety harness for each VR experience.


SUPS (stand up paddleboards) are becoming a mainstay on Canada’s waterways. They are inexpensive, easy to transport and store (some are inflatable) and allow Canadians to get out on the water like never before. However, research by the Canadian Safe Boating Council has shown that lifejacket wear on SUPs is woefully small.

The Shock Factor SUP offered an opportunity for the subject to go for a leisurely paddle in a beautiful cove and enjoy the sights, sounds and feeling of freedom that a SUP provides. Part way through their paddle each subject was dumped into the virtual water and their reaction, both visible and physical was recorded.


More than 50 % of all the boats sold identify fishing as their primary purpose. So, it was only natural to include a fishing experience in the suite of VR experiences. Each subject, after being harnessed up went fishing on Shock Factor’s VR bass fishing boat. After a few casts the subjects experienced a virtual reality ‘fish on’ and had to reel their fish in beside the boat. Reaching for the fishing net and bending down to capture the fish on their hook, each subject experienced a (virtual) fall overboard and their reactions were recorded.

Real Experiences

Dunk Tanks

To add water to the mix, two dunk tanks were specially constructed. Similar in physical size each was wide enough to be safe for an unexpected dunking and deep enough that the subject would experience an immersion similar to falling overboard. The only difference was one tank had been heated to near body temperature (35 degrees) and the other was at about 17 degrees… an average Canadian lake water temperature.

Subjects were randomized into which tank they experienced first and also ‘wetted down’ with warm water before each dunking to ensure the results were not skewed by a dry and wet dunk. Each subject knew what was in store for them but not exactly when the trigger would be pushed, and they would end up into the water. Like the VR experiences, all reactions were recorded.