In spite of the fact that Virtual Reality seems to be taking over the world, it still has it’s share of naysayers. There are still those hangers-on who refuse to see the reality that is staring them in the face… pun absolutely intended. Most of these people must by now realize that they were wrong to doubt the successful resurgence of VR and they are simply holding their position in the faint glimmer of hope that this raging behemoth of an industry will trip over it’s laces and fall flat and they won’t have to admit they were wrong. With all of the major tech players involved, including Oculus, HTC, Valve, Sony and Google, that glimmer of hope now seems like a figment of their imagination. But there is one thing that could still kill VR before it has the chance to mature. Cooties.
That’s right, cooties. Germs. Disease, Gnarly funkage. Whatever you want to call it. These headsets can become filthy after prolonged use and possibly even spread disease. And though you probably received several cootie shots when you were in public school, you are going to want better protection than that. If this headset is going to be pressed against your face then you are going to want to be sure that it’s clean.
Imagine you went to a hotel and when you went into your room the pillows had no pillow cases on them. You call down to the front desk to let them know the mistake and they tell you that they don’t use pillow cases. I think most people would either check out immediately and find a new hotel or else sleep without a pillow. The thought of laying your head on something that countless other people have used with no protective barrier is revolting. And yet, out of box, the situation is very similar for users of VR headsets like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.
Oculus and HTC have put a good deal of thought into the ergonomics of their headsets in order to ensure that they are comfortable. HTC has their thick, formed facial foam that provides a good amount of padding and Oculus, while not as thick, uses two layers of foam to provide comfort. The problem with both of these headsets is that the designers did not seem to take into account just how hot it can be inside these units, especially on a crowded show floor or in the heat of midsummer. Sweat happens in these cases and that facial foam becomes like a sponge, sucking up the dirt and grime that the sweat is gathering off of your face and the face of the other people who have used the headset.
While hygiene of the entire unit is important, especially when demoing to a lot of people, the most important area when it comes to cleanliness has to be the facial interface. It’s vital to make sure that this area is easily washable and the best way to do that is to cover it with a washable sleeve that can be removed, or better yet, that doesn’t have to be because the cover itself can simply be wiped down with an antibacterial cloth. If the entire padding can be made washable and removable, even better.
2016 looks to be shaping up to be the year of VR, what with companies like Facebook’s Oculus and HTC having already released their headsets, Sony set to launch theirs in the coming months and even Google getting into the game this fall with their Daydream VR standard. It seems that our future is going to be full of pressing our faces into these machines to do everything from play video games, to watch movies to shopping. So maybe we should also try to make sure that 2016 is the year of VR hygiene as well.
To make sure that your headset is ready for the Year of VR Hygiene, visit our store.March 2, 2016
The general consensus is that by and large the troubles plaguing virtual reality in the past are behind us. Time will tell if virtual reality finally achieves the place in the home so many, including us, believe it deserves, but there is yet one hurdle that doesn’t get a lot of attention.
Hygiene for Virtual Reality Headsets
So you have everything ready to go for an extended VR demo session. You have two people on one virtual reality demo station. One person fixing up the computer, launching the demos and talking to people and one person managing the cable jungle and cleaning the headset in between uses. Great!
We had a look at some studies related to headset and office hygiene to give you an idea why cleaning your VR HMD in between uses makes sense.
Dr Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona conducted a study analyzed 7,000 samples from offices around the USA. The study found that the highest form of germ contamination areas were telephones, desktops and keyboards. Surprisingly, toilet seats consistently had the lowest bacteria levels of the 12 surfaces tested. Microbiological populations found include potentially dangerous and contagious organisms like E.coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Streptococcus and Salmonella. The same bacteria can be found on telephones, and ear cushions.
The study got commissioned by a major clean wipes compay but you get the idea. There are some nasties out there.
Gupta, Wantland and Klien (1996) suggest that much of the peripheral equipment used in VR are potential fomites. A fomite is a harmless object that is able to harbour pathogenic organisms and therefore, may serve as an agent for the transmission of infections. They go on to suggest that airborne pathogens and skin flora thrive in environments similar to those of HMDs and hand controller devices.
So what kind of infectious disease can be spread by sharing VR headsets?
The most common infectious diseases and are usually transmitted by close contact with the saliva or nasal secretions from an infected individual are influenza, strep throat, pink eye, and meningitis. Because of the enclosed nature of HMD’s they can become quite warm causing the user to sweat and this can be exacerbated if the user is forced to move around while playing.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your headset clean and in good shape even when showing it to hundreds of people:
- Wipe the lens and foam using a microfiber cloth, the same kind you would use to clean glasses or a computer screen. Dab the cloth into water or soapy water, when necessary. Even better get one of our waterproof VR Cover that are easier to clean.
- We recommend you wipe our waterproof VR Cover with non alcoholic anti bacterial wipes after every user and use alocholic wipes just every 10 – 15 users. The residue from alcoholic wipes can be a bit harsh on some people’s skin.
- Use watch glass protectors or some other form of plastic to cover the lenses. This can help to prevent scratches.
- Keep your VR headset somewhere where it won’t collect dust, use a can of compressed air to blow it out of any nooks and crannies.
It is important for the life of your HMD that you take care of it, store it properly and keep it clean. But beyond just ensuring you get the most use possible out of your purchase before having to replace it, it will also ensure that you and your users remain healthy and free of unpleasant illnesses.
We will bring more hygiene solutions for VR this year. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear about them first.February 18, 2016
We have been working on far more hygiene solutions for VR than our virtual reality headset covers in the last 16 months since we started this project but it was never the right time to release what we worked on. This changes this year with the release of consumer virtual reality devices such as the Gear VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Today we are happy to launch a face foam replacement for the Samsung Gear VR.
Our VR Cover foam padding can be used instead of the original foam padding that was shipped with the Gear VR. It comes in a set of two. If you show your Gear VR to someone, one foam padding can be on the Gear VR while you quickly wipe down the other one before you replace it for the next person who wants to try the Gear VR.
The foam padding is made from a soft leather like material that is pleasant to wear and easy to clean.February 11, 2016
Last week we launched our new virtual reality project called VR Lens Lab. With VR Lens Lab we offer prescription lens adapter for virtual reality headsets.
So instead of wearing glasses, now your VR headset can wear glasses. Besides the prescription lenses we also offer non prescription lenses that protect the original headset lenses or in case of the Blueguard VR coated lenses protect your eyes from harmful blue light.
The most simple option are lens caps that you can use to protect your VR lenses when traveling.January 25, 2016
Just a quick video how to easily put the new VR Cover for Samsungs Gear VR (Consumer Version) on. Go ahead and do it this way instead of wrestling with the foam padding directly.
Just make sure you pick the right one. If you have an older Gear VR (the Innovator Edition) it most likely has the old Oculus Rift logo on it. If you have a newer Gear VR that was released in November 2015 or later it has the new Oculus Rift logo on it and is the Consumer Edition that also works with the Samsung Note 5.January 12, 2016