Immersive experiences are becoming ever-more popular. And the Covid-crisis has led to an increase in sales of VR devices and an increased amount of time consumers spend in VR-experiences. Museums and film festivals such as IDFA, Tribeca, and Venice have ever-growing Immersive programs. Now that Covid-related regulations are easing up, it is even more important that these organizations implement proper measures to ensure the health and safety of guests and staff.
WeMakeVR has developed a protocol for public use of VR-devices and encourages organizations to review this and implement proper solutions within their organizations.
The protocol is being updated regularly, so we welcome feedback. Please send your comments to covidprotocol@WeMakeVR.com.
Prior to an event:
1. Inform guests/users about the hygiene protocol before coming to your event or venue, either during the ticket-checkout, on your website, and/or when tickets are downloaded. Ensure they are aware they will have an opportunity to use a VR-device, and that measures have been taken to ensure their health and safety. Also, advise people to wear contact lenses instead of glasses where applicable. Glasses are generally not disinfected by the user, so this requires a bit of extra care since they touch the headsets.
2. Prepare your event-hosts in terms of answering guest’s questions regarding the safety of using VR-devices.
3. Install silicone covers on each headset and controllers. With some headsets, a foam liner that touches the face can be removed and replaced with rubber or other less absorbent materials. If possible, implement that option, and then install the silicone covers. Please note, silicone cover are not universal; there are various options for various headsets. Make sure to order the right type for your headset. Also, note that currently (June 2020) shipping times can be up to 6 weeks.
4. Ensure a queuing area is stocked with a supply of disposable facemasks and hand-sanitizer.
5. Ensure each VR-station has a small table with a sanitizer, wipes, and extra disposable facemasks.
6. Ensure it is communicated – through signage or other means – that usage of VR-devices is at the guest’s own risk but that all measures have been taken to ensure a safe and enjoyable VR-experience.
During an event:
1. Hosts are advised to use gloves and protective facemasks when handling headsets and interacting with guests.
2. During queuing, supply guests with disposable face covers. Please note: some face-covers that stick to the inside of the headsets with Velcro which are installed by the hosts. These are not recommended. The variations that come with elastic ear straps can be put on by the guests themselves before their turn, so no-one else handles those other than the guest.
3. The host takes a headset out of the Cleanbox or uses a UVC-wand such as a Germ Reaper. This ensures the headset is UV-cleaned prior to use with a UVC-wand. Note: any moisture HAS to be wiped down first; otherwise, the UV-sterilization is not very effective. This applies to bulk-cleaning units as well as UVC-wand cleaning. Note: fluorescent UVC-wands are more effective than LED-based devices.
4. After every use of a headset perform an anti-bacterial wipe down; the silicone covers are moisture-proof and can be easily wiped. Use either spray or disposable anti-bacterial wipes.
5. Guests should use hand cleaner before handling headset and controllers.
6. Ensure the headset is dry before handing it to the guest. Also, ensure the guest is wearing a disposable facemask.
7. Before handing over a headset, a host demonstrates how to put on the headset. Important: the headset is held onto the facemask first, then pull the strap over the head. Nearly all users do this the other way around; they put the strap on the back of the head, then pull a headset forward. This will shift the facemask out of place and make it very uncomfortable. (Plus, this method can damage the headset.)
8. Once a guest is done, the guest takes off a headset by pulling and lifting the strap first.
9. Ensure a trash bin is available for facemask-disposal.
10. Lenses get a quick wipedown (to clean off condensation and/or smudges). The headset is then returned to the Cleanbox or is clean as in step 5. Important: do not use any abrasive cleaners on the VR-headset lenses. A soft lens cloth is fine for basic lens cleaning.
Final practical tips:
Any of these measurements implemented should be visible to the guests; seeing that proper measures are taken will help provide ease of mind for the guests.
Note on UVC-cleaning devices; for bulk-cleaning products such as the Cleanbox can be used, but UVC-wands can also be effective. UVC cleaning wands are somewhat lower cost than the Cleanbox or similar units and can be used by hosts right before usage of a headset. Notes on UVC-wands:
Download the full document here which includes sources for covers, supplies, etc..