Disclaimer: we highly recommend cancelling your VR event because of the recent developments in COVID-19. Major festivals like SXSW and Collision have cancelled their 2020 festivals and every major tech conference around the world have been cancelled due to Coronavirus outbreaks, and VR events are even more likely to spread viruses through direct facial contact.
However, should you decide to continue on with your event or if you decide to share a VR headset in any capacity with anyone at all in the future, please follow our sanitation guidelines in this article to protect yourself and others as best as possible.
There's no denying that COVID-19 has caused a huge stir globally. Major festivals like SXSW and Collision have cancelled their 2020 festivals and every major tech conference around the world have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Not to mention, entire countries have been put on lockdown.
At Contraverse, we believe that good sanitation procedures should always be in place — not just in times of pandemics— so we thought we would share our best practices on VR equipment sanitation so you can implement these solutions at your next VR exhibition or event.
First, we always make sure that anyone working at our VR exhibitions (be it festival volunteers or paid employees) are trained thoroughly with personal sanitation and help everyone understand how their own personal hygiene can impact guests.
This is especially important when dealing with virtual reality headsets at big international events that are being shared among hundreds, or sometimes thousands of people coming from all around the world, over the course of a week.
Below are our top 5 recommendations for keeping your VR exhibit properly sanitized:
Cleanbox is our number 1 cleaning procedure for every single VR exhibition we do. The Cleanbox uses Medical grade UVC light and air blasts to disinfect the headsets. The UVC light has been proven to be effective against all types of bacteria, viruses and fungi. It is the same technology used in hospitals and dentist offices all around the world to sanitize medical equipment.
All VR headsets and headphones should be put through the Cleanbox after they are used on a guest, or before being used on anyone else. It is a quick and effective way of cleaning multiple devices before a VR screening, or in between sessions.
Additionally, it is a good idea to put each device (VR headsets and headphones) through the Cleanbox at the beginning of the day, and at the end of the day for basic hygiene, before storing them in a box or wherever you store your equipment.
Regarding Corona Virus
UVC light has been repeatedly proven to be effective against all types of bacteria, viruses and fungi. There have been many tests against SARS and MERS which are also coronaviruses, and UVC was proven to be effective against those pathogens.
There are no indicators at this time that COVID-19 will be any more resistant against UVC than SARS or MERS.
It is important to remember the coronavirus is otherwise typically known to be one of the organisms responsible for the common cold, which is rapidly obliterated with UVC light. While this novel strain may be more virulent within the human body there's no reason to suspect that it will be less susceptible to standard methods of decontamination and sterilization including chemical agents and UVC light.
Simple and straightforward, thorough hand-washing at the beginning of every shift, after bathroom breaks, and periodically through the day is the first line of defense in preventing the spread of viruses and keeping the headsets in a safe and clean condition.
Below is a straightforward guide on how to properly wash your hands with soap and water:
3. Hand Sanitizer
We highly recommend that hand sanitizer is not used to replace handwashing for volunteers or operators dealing with headsets, but having sanitizer accessible throughout your space will encourage guests to use it and will help manage the spread of germs from guests as they come in and out of the exhibition.
4. Replacement Headset Covers & Disposable Face Masks
Purchasing replacement headset covers will help for simplicity with cleaning the headsets. Often, headsets will come with standard face covers that are made of a spongey foam material. Besides the major issue of germs getting stuck in the foamy material, we also find that make-up often gets visibly stuck on the foam covers and gets transferred to other guests' faces.
To make cleaning and wiping the headset cover much easier, we recommend purchasing replacements for your headsets like VR Cover. Purchasing a leather or plastic replacement material will make cleaning much easier as they will absorb less moisture either from sweat or wipes for cleaning.
Using multiple silicone face mask covers that go overtop the stock foam covers can also be a great alternative to the leather VR cover.
Additionally, disposable headset covers like these, these or these can be good to offer your guests who may want a little bit of extra protection. We generally don't recommend offering these disposable covers to every guest because of the environmental waste they produce.
5. Disinfectant Wipes and Baby Wipes
The overall cleanliness of the exhibition space and VR headsets is incredibly important as these devices are sitting right over the eyes and noses of your guests.
We encourage the use of disinfectant wipes to clean the exhibition space and the exterior of headsets and controllers / remotes, iPads, tablets, and computers, especially since many of them are made of plastic.
We also recommend using disinfectant wipes to wipe down any tables, chairs, arm rests, and door handles used during the exhibition. This is especially important for surfaces that the headsets will be resting on.
For the interior of the headsets, we recommend cleaning using unscented baby wipes to remove any residue left on the face cover by any guests.
Never use wipes of any kind on the lenses of the headsets.
For the lenses, only use microfibre cloths.
We hope that this guide will help ease some anxiety around the current Coronavirus epidemic and serve as a guide to many more healthy and clean VR exhibitions and events in the future.
Remember, these procedures are just as important when there isn't a global epidemic, as when there is one. They should simply be followed at all times to prevent the spread of germs and diseases in any circumstance.
Having proper sanitization procedures in place will also make for a more professional impression on your guests, and give them the sense of relief before putting a VR headset on their face, putting them in a more relaxed state to become immersed in your experience.
Good sanitation is always important to ensure that we can all stay healthy and enjoy exciting experiences and community events!
Below are additional links from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding large community events & mass gatherings:
How to clean and disinfect electronic devices:
Virtual reality headset hygiene best pracitices (via VR Cover):
How to clean your Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (via VR Cover):
Ultimate Oculus Rift Cleaning Guide (via VR Cover):