The Challenge

Improve SCAN’s customer service by improving their empathy-building training program.

SCAN Health Plan, a Medicare provider in California, had long been using their Trading Ages training program to help employees better understand their aging members. However, they saw the potential to improve the program by harnessing the empathy-generating power of virtual reality.

The Insight

By creating better empathy for seniors through VR, we can improve care.

We saw the untapped potential in this empathy program. This project was about more than simply improving customer service — we could actually improve care and make lives better. For SCAN, creating deeper empathy was the key to unlocking their employees’ potential by providing new levels of insight into the lives of the people for whom they care.

In the 2 to 6 minutes that these individuals have experienced, we have gotten so much more across to them than the entire 90 minutes that it takes without virtual reality.

Director, Community Giving SCAN Health Plan
Participants wearing SCAN Trading Ages VR branded virtual reality headsets

The Ideation

We saw something that worked. But we knew we could make it work better.

In the past, SCAN used a combination of glasses, gloves and other physical devices to simulate disabilities. It was a groundbreaking program, but we felt we could make it even better. We wanted to give SCAN's employees the opportunity to truly experience some of the physical and emotional challenges faced by their aging members — what it’s like to deal with vision and hearing loss, for example, or the emotional toll of living with a spouse suffering from dementia.


Realizing its potential to help others, SCAN is now sharing Trading Ages with other organizations across the country.

Storyboard sketch of SCAN Trading Ages VR Experience
Primacy employee assisting someone wearing a VR headset, viewing Trading Ages VR experience
VR headset showing a still of the SCAN Trading Ages VR scene

Smarter Experience

To make a real, emotional connection, we created a VR experience unlike any other.

We filmed 3 separate 360-degree scenes and used a combination of visual effects and 360-degree audio to add the desired visual and auditory disabilities to each scene. During each Trading Ages session, these scenes are played simultaneously in 25 VR headsets—all controlled by a single tablet using a custom remote control app we designed—so everyone gets the same VR experience at the same time.


Building a 25-person classroom in VR took some front-end and back-end ingenuity.

To ensure 25 headsets could network in real-time, we decided on a simple, but custom, TCP based, locally networked solution. The entire platform was designed to be evergreen with a high level of modularity — utilizing common prefabs, plugins, and scripts so we can continue to film and incorporate new experiences as needed. The technology stack was composed of: Unity (front-end and back-end), Coded in C#, and AVPro Video Component enabled traditional and 360-degree video playback. Finally, we employed a group of QA professionals to stress-test and simulate a live training scenario in order to ensure the experience behaved as expected whether only 5 headsets were connected or all 25.

Primacy employees testing multiple Trading Ages VR devices
Behind the scenes of filming SCAN Trading Ages VR - actor wearing a head-less body suit with 360 camera mounted where head should be
Moderator holding tablet that shows custom-built app that controls 25 VR headsets at once
Participant wearing SCAN Trading Ages VR headset

The Outcome

An experience that’s changing perceptions, customer relationships and lives.

The use of virtual reality has had a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of SCAN’s Trading Ages program. By limiting people’s ability to see certain details or hear certain dialogue within the scenes, we are now able to put them in an aging person’s shoes like never before.


Primacy believes in the value of this program so much that we’ve included it in our own accessibility training.

close-up of SCAN Trading Ages VR headset and controller