Now, more than ever, people are concerned about how they’re keeping their equipment clean. Disinfecting the tools your employees use every day goes beyond just halting the spread of disease and preventing disruptions due to illness. It also shows care for the wellbeing of individual workers, something vital to workplace morale. In many fields the use of hand sanitizer and antiseptic cleaning products is sufficient, but for those using VR equipment, we have a few additional recommendations.
VR controllers are often the easiest components to disinfect. Made of solid plastic, most can simply be wiped down with an antiseptic wipe. But head mounted displays (HMDs) present a unique challenge to consistent cleaning and disinfecting. In addition to the hard plastic, they contain a multitude of soft surfaces such as velcro straps and foam cushions which resist disinfection via antiseptic solutions, as well as lenses and other exposed wiring that cannot be exposed to certain liquid cleaners at all. This makes traditional disinfection processes challenging.
One additional option is UVC disinfection. Unlike disinfecting with antiseptic solution, UVC disinfection uses only ultraviolet light to kill pathogens without damaging sensitive equipment. UVC disinfection is also more effective on soft surfaces such as the head straps and face guards on most HMDs. Because UVC disinfection uses no liquids, the headset is also immediately ready to be used again without needing to be allowed to dry. At Foundry 45 we have worked with Cleanbox using their CX1 UVC cleaning device.
Beyond disinfection, there are also a number of accessories that can be employed as part of an overall equipment hygiene plan. One of the most effective changes that can be made is replacing any foam pads on your HMDs with leather alternatives. Unlike foam, leather is much easier to disinfect, and will also resist sweat and other bodily fluids that would normally be absorbed into a foam faceguard.
Another effective VR hygiene accessory is the disposable VR facemask. By now most people have become accustomed to wearing a mask over their face to prevent the spread of infection, but you can improve upon that protection with the addition of disposable facemasks made of similar materials to mouth and nose coverings which act as a barrier between the user’s skin and the HMD itself. These disposable coverings have the advantage of being easy to put into use in environments where workers are already wearing face coverings, without requiring any training on best practices for disinfection.
The last part of any comprehensive VR hygiene protocol is going to be handling and storage of disinfected equipment. Just like any other equipment, sterilization is ineffective if the sterilized equipment is immediately handled by non-sterilized hands. It is therefore important for any disinfection method that workers wash their hands before beginning the sanitization process, and continue to do so as needed while working with the equipment. When an HMD has been completely sanitized it should be stored in a way that ensures it remains clean until it is next used. For equipment in constant use this could mean having the next user retrieve the equipment from your sanitization system themselves. If the equipment is going to be stored between uses it should be stored in a case that is itself cleanable, or in a disposable sterilization bag, and care should be taken to ensure everything that has been sanitized is labelled as such to prevent confusion.
By developing a comprehensive hygiene plan for your VR equipment you ensure the safety of yourself and your colleagues.