“Saritasa went above and beyond to deliver a high-quality product that met our requirements and made themselves available to provide helpful recommendations and guidance on related items that were not specified in the scope of the contract.” – Kimmell Proctor, CEO of Beyond Literacy
Community Learning Center VR Training Experience
In the United States, 1 in 5 adults has low literacy skills (source). In Philadelphia, the numbers shrink to 1 in 3. Literacy is critical for adults to communicate and engage with society. Most jobs today also require a high degree of literacy, leaving those struggling behind.
Beyond Literacy, the largest literary agency in Philadelphia, tackles this problem by providing free, high-quality education to adults and families. Studies have shown that an increase in literacy can lift people from poverty. Their goal is to help their students move from learning to earning, providing access and opportunities to both education and careers.
In addition to providing quality education, Beyond Literacy provides career coaching to succeed as productive members of the community and workforce. They wanted to find a way to provide hands-on training experiences to their learners trying to select a career path.
Beyond Literacy provides education for careers in energy and utilities, including electrical and utility repair, meter systems operators, machining and vehicle repairs, and other skilled trades. While these opportunities can be great for adults looking for stable, high-paying work, it’s difficult to find the right path without hands-on experience. This is especially true in fields with phobia-inducing environments, such as dealing with heights or tight, dark spaces.
Virtual reality provided the perfect solution, allowing students to try different job scenarios to ensure the career is a fit before going through training and certification. Saritasa ended up building two different experiences. In the first, the user climbs 30 feet up an electric utility pole to clear an obstruction. In the second experience, the user enters a dark, cramped sewer system to troubleshoot issues.
What Saritasa Did:
Proposal for Grant
When Beyond Literacy came to our team, they had a need and a concept but needed help securing a grant to fund the project. Our team worked with theirs to create a grant proposal, outlining the solutions, benefits, and requirements. When Beyond Literacy came to us to build out the experience.
Together, Beyond Literacy and Saritasa identified the best scenarios for virtual reality training. The idea was to replicate an experience that would otherwise be too dangerous or costly to try in real life. In one of the VR experiences, the user is coached on climbing up a 30-foot tall utility pole. While climbing so high may sound fun, an individual may have a fear of heights without realizing it until they are placed in the situation. In real life, a fall from such a height would have devastating impacts. In VR, if a user misplaces their handholds, they simply start the experience over again.
The concept of getting learners interested in potential careers only works if the virtual reality environments accurately reflect what the real-world job will look like. Our in-house team of 3D designers and engineers created incredibly realistic environments for both the utility pole and underground sewer system scenarios.
The learning experiences were built on the Unity platform by Saritasa’s team of expert Unity developers for the Oculus Quest 2 headset. Saritasa recommended the Quest 2 for the training experiences for their tether-free functionality and affordability, allowing Beyond Literacy to easily implement the training without heavy equipment overhead.