20 May 2021

Taking VR out of the games room and into the Interview room

Guest blog: How Accenture and Goodwill are using tech to help prisoners get into work by Emma Cooper at Accenture as part of our #DigitalJustice2021 week

We’ve all seen the hype about virtual reality and augmented reality increasing over the last few years. I myself first experienced how this could work a few years ago in Accenture’s Innovation Centre where I shared with clients how this type of tech could be used for training purposes e.g. simulating repairs on an oil rig, or responding to a potential disaster. So, its always been obvious to me that this type of tech has great potential. At the same time these types of simulations always seemed a bit like you had to be a gamer to use them – learning how to move your hands to virtually push a button or lift a lever did not always come naturally to me. So I was pleasantly surprised a couple of years ago when at a training event just outside Chicago I was given a VR headset for quite a different example which felt much simpler to use. It was after hearing a presentation on a new Accenture programme and what the VR tested was how well the audience, in this case me, had understood the presentation. Wearing a VR headset with a microphone I was asked to summarise the concept, what I had heard, what my thoughts were on it and then based on a number of factors e.g. pace of my speech, number of hesitations used, the types of word used etc. I was then given feedback on my level of comprehension and confidence on the talk based on this. It was easy, immediate and felt very accurate and something I felt could be easily replicated for other use cases.

I was therefore delighted to read about the work Accenture are doing with Goodwill Industries International to develop an innovative virtual experience called Project Overcome designed for people impacted by the criminal justice system who want to enter the workforce. As Henry Bullough told us recently at a techUK event we know that the ability to get back into meaningful work is a major factor in terms of reducing rehabilitation. So its great to see an innovation such as this being developed to support this goal of employment for ex offenders. I would love to see something like this being trialled in the UK. What are your thoughts on the use of AR/VR for this type of programme and what would be the critical success factors?