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Elevating Hygiene in VR Entertainment : The Power of UV-C Technology

TLDR: Use Cleanbox to make sure your VR headsets are sanitized, safe, and last longer.

Hygiene is something every responsible location-based entertainment operator takes seriously. If you operate a commercial kitchen, health inspectors are there to ensure compliance with best practices. Ignoring them can result in fines, censures, and even closure for repeated violations.

Patrons on social media are the bathroom hygiene police now, where one bad experience by a vocal patron can lead to bad reviews, online flaming, and a bad look for your business. But there are no inspectors when it comes to VR headset hygiene.

In 2017 I coined the term Hygiene Theater, imploring Zero Latency operators to create hygiene stations with visible signage. Employees were to make their cleaning of equipment visible so showcase their cleaning practices to customers. The term took on a different meaning during COVID, when it was twisted to mean making a show of practices that were essentially ineffective. My intent has and remains to make your hygiene practices visible AND effective.

Most operators leave hygiene to the customers. Some are better than others at making alcohol wipes available, but few offer instructions on how to use them properly. I’ve seen lots of unattended VR systems with no wipes at all. Often the headsets on these systems have been neglected, with the face pads worn down to exposed open-cell foam. Once the vinyl on the face pad is worn, it cannot be disinfected with an alcohol wipe.

Attended VR systems are generally left to hourly employees who may or may not be diligent in their practices. Without rigorous training, and retraining, it’s easy to shortcut the process during peak hours. Alcohol can also damage the lenses and I’ve witnessed both employees and patrons using wipes to clean the plastic lenses.

The gold standard in hygiene is germicidal UV-C light. There are three types of UV radiation, A, B, and C, all with different wavelengths. UVC, which is the best at killing nasties, never reaches earth from the sun, as the short frequency is easily blocked by the ozone in the atmosphere. Implemented properly, UV-C has been proven to eliminate 99.999% of all pathogens.

Cleanbox has been building UV-C systems specifically for VR headsets since 2018. Their products are used in more than 50 countries by 2000 customers in 15 different industries. The products are easy to use by anyone and disinfect a headset in about a minute. And they’re highly visible so customers gain confidence that the best hygiene standards are being adhered to.

Where other UVC solutions use bulbs which will degrade the plastic in a headset over time, reducing its life, Cleanbox uses patented LED technology proven safe for VR headsets. The LED system doesn’t generate heat, and is engineered for even coverage, reaching hard-to-clean areas of the equipment.

Cleanbox offers off-the-shelf solutions operators can purchase that pay for themselves from the savings on labor and wipes alone. And there’s no chemicals to degrade the lenses and foam pads over time, increasing the lifespan of expensive VR headsets. They also have a reference design for manufacturers to integrate into their solutions.

Cleanbox is the official hygiene sponsor of the VR Arcade Summit and the Free Roam Pavilion at Amusement Expo. Make sure to check out their solutions at the show, and come to the Industry Standards workshop where we will discuss hygienic best practices for both attended and unattended VR systems. 

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