VR Safety Training in a Post COVID World

November 10, 2020

Workplace safety is core to our mission at HTX Labs - and in today's world, the health and safety of your workforce is top of mind at many organizations. XR training, which broadly includes Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), offers a broad range of benefits to build preparedness in your workforce, and as a wearable technology that interfaces directly with our bodies, it is important to implement strategies for keeping the headsets and accessories clean. Do not share devices with persons exhibiting symptoms of contagious diseases, and consider some of the procedures below in your training program. For specific contagious conditions relative to COVID-19, please refer to CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting.

The guidelines below have been aggregated based on the publications from our VR hardware partners at Oculus and Varjo, and we've remixed them to make it more accessible to our community.

CLEANING GUIDELINES

  • Wash your hands prior to and after using any headset and handling shared equipment.
  • Use nitrile gloves while cleaning equipment and dispose of gloves after each use.
  • Between cleanings, either wash hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer if a sink is not readily accessible.
  • Clean devices (headset, controllers, and other accessories that people have touched) between each use with non-abrasive anti-bacterial wipes. Suggested cleaning products include Wexford CleanCide or Lysol wipes. When using these products, visibly wet the surface and allow the surface to remain wet for 10 minutes.
  • Use a dry microfiber cloth to clean the lenses, but do not use alcohol as it could damage the lenses.
  • Let equipment air dry completely after cleaning before the next use (at least 10 minutes). Use another headset or controller while the equipment fully air dries.
  • Use a dry microfiber cloth (but not the same one used to wipe lenses as alcohol can damage lenses) to remove any wetness or residue from the headset and controllers.

GENERAL BEST PRACTICES

  • Define and enforce a VR/XR etiquette. It is important to define a detailed etiquette for hygiene and safety in a shared VR/XR facility. This is the only way that cleaning the equipment will become automatic for all users. Put up detailed instructions for your dedicated VR/XR space, and make sure your whole company commits to the etiquette to ensure everyone feels safe and protected.
  • Use wipeable facial interfaces on headsets for which they are available. Wipe clean with non-abrasive, anti-bacterial wipes after each use. The team at VR Cover makes silicon interfaces that can be easily cleaned for headsets that are shared between people. https://vrcover.com/
  • For devices that do not have wipeable facial interfaces available, use disposable barrier masks while following the same cleaning guidelines between use. https://vrcover.com/product/disposable-hygiene-cover/
  • Always plan to have extra supplies available, and consider administering a personal facial interface per user.
  • Sanitize the headset body thoroughly before and after each session. You can clean the headset with non-abrasive antibacterial wipes. Carefully wipe the face cushion, light blocker, and nose area – as well as the headset body, including the headband adjustment wheel, buttons, and cables.
  • To clean the headset, first, unplug the headset from its power source. Do not use soap, harsh chemicals, cleaning solvents, liquids, or aerosols for cleaning the headset as they can cause damage to the device.
  • Maintain excellent personal hygiene. Always wash your hands (and face if possible) thoroughly before and after putting the headset on.
  • Remember to wipe the controllers, keyboard, mouse, and other equipment before and after each session.

PUBLIC TRAINING AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Always check the guidelines provided by your local health authorities before planning public demos, and make sure you respect their regulations and recommendations for social distancing and wearing a mask.

Careful hygienic practices are needed to ensure a safe VR/XR experience for everyone. We recommend following these steps.

1. Plan the logistics for your training space

  • The first step is to carefully plan the flow of people through your demo area in advance to avoid too many visitors lining up at one time.
  • Offer pre-booking before the event to reserve training slots, minimizing or even completely removing the need for visitors to line up.
  • Limit the training space usage to training only. Provide a separate area for discussions to maintain the recommended social distancing practices.

2. Take excellent care of hygiene when handling the hardware

  • During the training, it is important to maintain excellent hygiene for the equipment, the space, and of course the people. If possible, provide instructions to the visitors beforehand to prepare them for the training experience.
  • Ask visitors to wash their hands thoroughly before and after handling any VR/XR equipment to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria
  • Bring hand sanitizer to your demo space, especially If your visitors do not have access to a sink or soap. Please note that the usage of hand sanitizer should not replace hand and face washing.
  • Wearing a mouth-covering face mask helps prevent air from going into the headset.

3. Stock up on hygiene products for your demo session

  • For sanitizing the headset body, we use disinfectant wipes for medical devices. Note that these wipes are not suitable for cleaning the optical lenses.
  • For cleaning the headset lenses, we recommend using dry wipes made specifically for lenses.
  • Running out of wipes means running out of demos – so keep a big pile of them.
  • We recommend using easy-to-clean hygiene cushions combined with disposable headset masks.
  • Fabric cushions are not recommended to be used in public demos and large events as those cannot be easily cleaned between users. In case you must use the fabric cushions, ensure you have enough spare cushions to frequently replace them, or to provide one per user.
  • Always have extra face interfaces handy, and consider the equipment to sanitize them, like Cleanbox https://www.cleanboxtech.com/

If you have any questions about these safety and hygiene instructions, or you’d like to share with us your best practices, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Support or Sales team.