The Academy of International Extended Reality releases a safety update for using Virtual & Augmented Reality during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak
International – 25 February
The safety of users currently wearing head mounted displays and immersive haptic devices has prompted the academy to provide basic guidelines and advice to minimise the risk of contracting and spreading the Covid-19 virus.
While the guidelines published below have been specifically created in response to recent global circumstances, AIXR would like to remind all organisations, events and individuals that common hygiene practices should be utilized at all times, no matter the circumstances.
In particular the academy has identified key areas of heightened risk:
- VR location based entertainment
- Immersive devices / content showcasing at large gatherings or international events
- Devices that are used daily within enterprise based solutions, including but not limited to healthcare and training sectors.
The following guidance takes into consideration advice issued by the world health organisation in addition to specialist experience from AIXR.
The following should be observed:
1. Follow rigorous hand cleaning procedures.
All staff trained to handle VR or AR devices either at conferences, lbe or enterprise situations should have alcohol based (60% or higher) hand sanitiser on hand. Before a user puts on a device it is advised they should be required to wash their hands using the sanitiser.
Water and soap hand cleaning for 20 seconds is preferred when the facilities are available.
2. Foam inserts on devices WILL NOT enable effective cleaning of headsets
The porous foam material that usually sits on the inside of head mounted displays allows for bodily fluids to easily seep into the material preventing wipes from effectively cleaning headsets. We recommend all devices should be required to be either covered with a waterproof headset cover or coated in a water proofing chemical before making use of Alcohol based wipes (60% isopropyl alcohol).
3. Make sure to wipe down controllers, in addition to headsets
The controllers themselves are often an overlooked device when it comes to hygiene. On average viruses can live on surfaces for between four and five days. Make sure to clean the controllers and any other accessories that a user may make use of between each rotation.
4. Concentrated UVC Light cleaning increases effectiveness
Consider making use of some Medical grade UV light cleaning solutions that are on the market. They may help alleviate the overall time spent cleaning devices and increase your hygiene procedure effectiveness.
5. Staff should receive basic training on hygiene and safety procedures
Staff should be trained on not only how to properly clean a headset, but to spot the signs of an unwell user prior to them wearing a headset – if at any point a user looks as though they could have a high temperature or shortness of breath, staff should reconsider whether it is a good idea for them to be in XR.
Staff should be aware of how to deal with situations where there is a suspected COVID-19 case and the guidelines set out by local government agencies.
6. It’s the large gathering of people in general that increases risk
Trade shows, lbe locations and large enterprise deployments are most at risk due to the environment they are placed in. The majority of organisations and individuals that take the precautions issued by AIXR into effect should see a substantial decrease in transmission risk. Those who are based in areas with large epidemic outbreaks should take the health and safety of both their employees and clients into consideration before deploying.
For more additional information in regards to COVID-19 (Also known as the Coronavirus) AIXR advises you follow up to date information from the World Health Organisation in addition to your local government.
Read our recent article on Planning for Scalable XR Deployment: the Problem of Hygiene
For specialist advice on safely using VR and AR within your environment contact the AIXR team directly.