DVLA experiment with Virtual Reality at work

It seems everywhere I go lately people are talking about how virtual reality (VR) will be one of the technologies coming in the future and how it’ll be a game changer.  It’ll change how and where we work, how we socialise with our friends and give us virtual site-seeing tours of far flung places; it will even make history lessons more fun in school.

It’s not a technology that will come sometime in the future – it’s already here.  Last night alone I went to ancient Rome and visited the coliseum, rode several rollercoasters, travelled to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in a submersible and went scuba diving on three tropical reefs. I also met a brontosaurus in Jurassic Park and had a virtual tour of our solar system and then the Milky Way – all from the comfort of my sofa. Virtual Reality is very much here and I love it.

Image of DVLA staff experimenting with Virtual Reality

DVLA staff experimenting with Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality in the workplace

I’ve recently been speaking to people about how we could make use of it in the work place to make things a bit more fun.  It’s great for training; allowing people to get familiar with situations or places before they’ve experienced them for real. By asking around, I realised that many people are yet to experience any form of VR…and this is despite mobile phone retailers giving away free VR headsets with new mobile phones.

So I wanted to do something to give people an introduction to VR in an accessible way. Yeah sure you can go buy an £800 HTC Vive and a £1000 computer to run it on and don’t get me wrong, the experience is awesome; but by using your mobile phone and a headset costing anywhere from £3 for a Google Cardboard up to £50 for a Samsung Gear VR, you can have up to 95% of the experience the Vive gives you for a fraction of the price.

Image of DVLA staff experimenting with Virtual Reality

DVLA staff experimenting with Virtual Reality

Experiencing Virtual Reality

So I held a session one lunch time last week in our new collaborative workspace called the Think Tank. Grass on the floor and brightly coloured bean bags. It’s a great start at encouraging creative thinking and making the DVLA a better place to work.  I was genuinely surprised by how many people came and had a go. I hadn’t expected so many people to want to give up their lunch hour to experience VR.  What I was not surprised at, was how pretty much everyone who experienced VR was blown away by the experience.  Especially when they found out how little it would cost them to experience it again – their phone and a pair of plastic goggles for just £20.

I had great conversations with people about how we could look to make use of this technology in different areas of the business; plus lots more conversations with people wanting to buy them for friends and families upcoming birthdays and even for Valentine’s Day.  Most importantly, it allowed people to experience technology that’s here today. It’s no longer the unknown to them. And by attending, without realising it, they’ve improved their digital skills. Next time someone talks to them about VR, they’ll be able to say “I’ve had a go of that and it’s awesome.”

Keep an eye out for exciting digital jobs at the DVLA – for all opportunities, please click here.

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Rob James, DVLA Enterprise Architecture Group

We maintain registers of drivers and vehicles in Great Britain. We hold over 45 million driver records and 38 million vehicle  records. We aim to improve road safety, reduce vehicle related crime, support environmental initiatives and limit vehicle tax evasion.

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