Job Experiences in Virtual Reality

A woman using Google Cardboard

Whether we’re ready for it or not, Virtual Reality (VR) is here. The technology is still in its infancy, but we’re already seeing some very interesting and unexpected applications for the technology. Of course, mega-corporations like Facebook, Google, Samsung, and Valve are all looking to claim their own piece of the proverbial pie, adding momentum to the revolution of ideas and innovations occurring within this space.

Of course, as with any early technology, Virtual Reality is expensive and buggy. Still, even in the early stages of development, the potential for these devices is undeniable.

Today we’re going to look at Google’s low-tech, low-cost VR headset, Google Cardboard. Unlike the higher-tech models available, this low-cost VR device allows users to experience virtual reality for only $30. Google Cardboard is exactly what it sounds like; it’s essentially a cardboard box with built-in magnifiers, and an open slot to place your cell phone into. On top of the headset is a finger-sized toggle that provides the only means of physical interaction within the VR environment.

A woman using Google Cardboard

We became interested in Google Cardboard after learning of its ability to simulate work-related experiences, both as a tool to prepare for job interviews, as well as a means of simulating various on-the-job experiences. We thought that this could have great potential for individuals who struggle with concentration, memory, staying on task, as well as for individuals who are excessively nervous or awkward in job interviews, or while they’re on the job. The idea is that by allowing users to have these initial work-related experiences in the comfort of their own home, the job interview and integration process becomes more familiar and less stressful, resulting in a higher rate of success in finding and keeping jobs.

Today we’re going to look at a few different approaches to work-related VR training:

Job Interview VR

The concept of the app is great, but the execution leaves much to be desired. The goal of this app is to have users practice tone and verbal execution in a job interview and receive feedback based on their verbal performance, but I had a really difficult time having my responses correctly register, and no matter what I said or how I said it, the score was always zero. The “interviewer” was a pixelated mess with the diction of a low-end text-to-speech app and didn’t really present as a convincing avatar, which made it difficult to feel immersed in the experience. With some updates and improvements this app might be worth using, but in its current state, I couldn’t recommend it.

Virtual Work Simulator

Like Job Interview VR, the app has potential, but is sorely lacking in execution. This app places users in the role of a grocery store worker forced to deal with an array of customer service issues, but it forces users to walk around the room to control their VR character, making it a difficult and potentially dangerous prospect. The environment and characters are poorly rendered, and sometimes the app simply doesn’t load. Once again, not something that I’d recommend.

A woman using Google Cardboard - Copy

VR Interview Videos

Upon downloading the Google Cardboard app, users are given access to a variety of VR demos, as well as to the 360-video channel, a collection of videos shot using 360-degree cameras. These videos are highly immersive, and a lot of fun to experience. Here, users can find a variety of simulated job interviews shot in 360 degrees. Some of these videos even have the interviewers pausing to allow the interviewee to speak, creating an even more realistic and immersive experience than the apps are currently able to offer. There is lots of content to choose from and more videos are being added every day, so users can experience simulated job interviews in a wide variety of environments with a wide variety of characters to “interact” with. I would definitely recommend these videos to first time interviewees; they’re realistic, typically well-acted, and allow users to experience a variety of environments.

VR On-The-Job Videos

Also located within the 360-video channel, there are a wide variety of 360 videos designed to allow users to experience life on the job in VR. Like the interview videos, most of the on-the-job videos are well executed, interesting, and visually appealing, making them a great choice for users who want to experience a day on the job without ever having to leave their seat. Because these videos cost much less to produce than an app, there is a huge variety of “experiences” available, and more content is being added every day. If you want to experience a day on the job in Virtual Reality, I would recommend taking a look at this channel.

Note: these apps and videos were reviewed in September 2018 and will likely be updated and improved in the future.

Tags: assistive technology, AT HelpDesk

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