Suggestions and Guidelines for Safety in a Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality HMD during public demos.

Since someone in any kind of Head Mounted Device (HMD)  has limited to completely obscured vision, it is important to recognize appropriate behavior around them.


If you are not the person actively assisting with the demo

  • Please stay a minimum of 3 feet away from any person using an HMD, for both your own safety and theirs.
  • Do not touch the person in the HMD, with the exception of preventing imminent harm (e.g. they are about to fall). That includes not touching friends, even if you think they won’t mind, or that it will be funny. 
  • Recognize that leaving Virtual or Augmented reality can be disorienting for some, and allow people adequate time to adjust.
  • Do not take photographs of people in VR without their explicit permission.

 

If you are someone actively assisting with a demo, recognize that safety is the first concern.

  • Consider providing a seated experience when possible.
  • Before handing the user any equipment, explain what you are going to do, and what they are likely to experience.
  • Give users a safe place to put belongings temporarily while they are demoing.
  • If content is of a sexual or extremely graphically violent nature, warn the participant, and use your best judgment when the participant is under 18.
  • Follow current best recommended age for VR – currently, 13 and over. You may be liable for any injuries sustained to anyone under the age of 13.
  • If your content has in intense discomfort level (https://support.oculus.com/help/oculus/918058048293446/  ) warn the participant, and offer solutions for if they start to feel nauseous (e.g. “Close your eyes if you feel ill”)
  • Remind the participant that they can pause or stop the demo at any time if they are uncomfortable, either by verbally letting you know, closing their eyes, or removing the HMD
  • When starting the demo, verbally narrate your actions as you help the participant put on any equipment (e.g. “I’m going to put the headset on you now” and “Here are the headphones/controllers”)
  • Warn people that seizures or blackouts are possible for some (no great data on the risk, but without better knowledge, assume roughly the same as for TV – 1:4000), and make sure if they are feeling either prolonged dizziness or disorientation, that you encourage them not to drive.
  • Ensure sufficient clearance around the participant, and offer any appropriate safety warnings (e.g. cables, walls)
  • If using roomscale, verbally verify that the participant can see the Chaperone/Guardian barriers.
  • When possible, at crowded events, use tables or other physical barriers to separate the demo space from the general public area.
  • Use covers for HMD foam, and disinfect using alcohol wipes between each user. (https://vrcover.com/ are one provider of such covers)
  • If you are demoing using Google Cardboard (or similar devices made from porous material) please cover the areas that touch people’s face with duct tape, vinyl, or some other easily wipeable, non-porous material.
  • If necessary to touch the participant to move them, narrate your actions, and only touch the participant on the shoulders. (“I’m going to move you a step to your left”)
  • In loud places, using a microphone so you can talk to the user is useful – especially if you have sound as part of your experience (though may not be possible with mobile based VR)
  • Monitor the surroundings of the user for the entirety of the demo to ensure physical safety, and prevent damage of your equipment.
  • With desktop based non-wireless VR, be very cautious and careful about how cables are managed, especially if your demo has a lot of movement or turning involved. Better to stop the demo, than have someone trip over cables, and potentially injure themselves or your equipment.
  • Recognize that leaving Virtual or Augmented reality can be disorienting for some, and allow people as much time as they need to recover before leaving your demo area. Always ask at least one followup question as a way to gauge how they are – disoriented people may act somewhat like a drunk person, swaying, glazed eyes, confused speech.
  • A few people have mentioned never touching the HMD once it’s on the user’s head, and letting them remove it themselves, which I think is a great point – the only reason I didn’t mention it initially was that in my personal experience, sometimes people will wait for you to help them take the headset off, where others will immediately pull it off themselves. In this case, I’d suggest using your best judgement – if the demo is over, and they’re not removing it, once again, talk your way through it – “I’m going to take the headset off you now.”
  • If you are photographing or filming participants while they are trying out your demo, warn them explicitly before doing so, and get a written consent from them afterwards. This site has some great templates, and an explanation of why you need written consent. http://photography.lovetoknow.com/Photography_Release_Forms

If you are the person in the HMD

  • Respect the person giving you the demo, and their equipment.
  • Follow all guidelines they give you – they want you to have a safe and great experience.
  • Be aware that there is some risk for seizure and blackouts for a very small number of participants, although there is no great data on the frequency of this at the moment, you can assume that it is roughly the same level of incidence as for television.
  • Be aware of your surroundings prior to entering – especially how close physical objects like walls and furniture are to you.
  • Don’t use other people’s equipment if you are sick, especially if you are suffering from an upper respiratory infection, conjunctivitis, or any other highly contagious disease
  • If you start to feel nausea or other symptoms related to being in virtual reality, close your eyes, or remove the HMD.
  • At the end of a demo, remove equipment carefully, or wait for the person giving you the demo to do so.
  • If you feel excessively disoriented or dizzy after leaving VR, ask for help and do not drive until symptoms subside.
  • If you feel someone touched you inappropriately while you engaged in the experience, report this as soon as possible to the leadership team for the event.

 

Have more tips? Let me know! This is a living document, and I want to make sure I’m giving the best safety and awareness tips for all parties concerned.!

5 thoughts on “Suggestions and Guidelines for Safety in a Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality HMD during public demos.”

  1. This is great stuff, really useful, and glad you assembled them so concisely and clearly. Are these all from your own work? Are there others I should credit in addition to you if I want to use these? (Can I print signs of these, etc? How do you want to be credited? Would you consider a CC-BY-SA or similar license, maybe? These are just super useful and so I’d like to use them more than just emailing your blog post 😀 – someday I’ll be able to resume going to meetups – and I want to make sure credit is given where credit is due)

    1. This is primarily my own work with a few community suggestions added. You are welcome to use these, repost, print, etc, just credit Suzanne Leibrick and link back here. Be aware that occasionally I do add new items, as this is a living doc and based on things I experience as a demo-er and demo-ee.

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