By Debra Boeldt, PhD
Your job, family and daily routine are most likely being impacted by the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The CDC has provided important guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus and protect your physical health. This includes avoiding close contact with others. The added stress as your routine changes may also impact your mental health. Virtual reality may be a tool to help you or your clients/patients manage anxiety right now. Taking five to ten minutes to engage in a mediation or relaxation and teleporting to a beach or the mountains may provide a break from the chaos. It is important to keep hygiene in mind while using the VR headsets. We at NMHIC recommend disinfecting the VR headsets adequately and often. Ultimately, you know whether using the headset makes sense for you and your environment. If you do continue to use VR, here are a few tips based on our processes in the Tech Innovation Network (TIN) to clean the hardware:
- Follow the CDC guidelines. It is very important to maintain physical hygiene when handling the equipment.
- Disinfect VR headsets regularly
- Sanitizing Wipes. Wiping the headset after each use is critical!
- You or your organization can also purchase a Wipeable Facecover. This will replace the existing cloth faceplate that comes with the device.
- Disposable Face Covers can also provide a barrier between your face and the headset.
- Clean the controller. It is important to disinfect the controller with antibacterial wipes after each use.
- Use gloves when it makes sense. As an extra precaution, before picking up a disinfected headset or remote, put on a pair of sterile gloves.
- When in doubt, stop using the VR for now. If there are concerns about the spread of the virus and the ability to guarantee that the device is disinfected properly, discontinue using it for the time being.
- Additional options. A company called Cleanbox utilizes UVC light to disinfect VR. However, to our knowledge, they have not independently published the effectiveness of the product.