XR Device Hardware

When you plan to use XR Collaboration software, you will need physical equipment. While you can use more traditional computing equipment – desktop/laptop computers, tablets and smartphones – the real power of XR Collaboration comes from using more immersive XR headsets or HMDs (Head Mounted Displays).

Desktop, Tablet and Smartphone Devices

Although there has been great progress in making HMDs lighter, more affordable, and pervasive, a large proportion of users still engage with XR Collaboration tools via more traditionally available desktop, tablet, and smartphone devices. Additionally, a small percentage of the general population will encounter mild discomfort with Virtual Reality and should plan to use either traditional devices or AR HMDs. A 2D display can be a viable option for accessing XR Collaboration tools, but it will often come with limited interaction and a less convenient display experience.

Augmented Reality HMDs

There are a lot of different Augmented Reality or “smart glass” devices, but few are currently powerful enough to provide a good user experience for XR Collaboration. We have identified the most available devices for this type of use and provide information about them below.

There are two types of AR HMDs - standalone and tethered.

A standalone AR HMD is one which does not need separate compute equipment but has everyone you need all in a single head-worn device.

A tethered AR HMD is one which needs to be connected to external computing resources - typically via a wire although some of the newer devices support high-speed local wireless connections to the computing equipment. In many ways, you can consider a tethered HMD one which primarily functions as a display and sensor device, while all of the content they show will actually be rendered elsewhere.

Virtual Reality HMDs

Standalone VR HMDs

There are many relatively newer Virtual Reality HMDs that do not need to be connected to a computer to work, and provide a very good user experience. It is anticipated that standalone HMDs will continue to be in high demand for the next few years.

Standalone devices have come down dramatically in price, especially over the past year, to the point where they have become relatively inexpensive (e.g., the Oculus Quest retails at US $399). The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic (especially in China) has meant a shortage of devices. Popular HMDs such as the Oculus Quest and Valve Index have been consistently sold out since Christmas 2019. It is likely this situation will continue for much of 2020.  

It is also important to note that there are key differences between these devices. In particular, some provide only 3 degrees of freedom movement tracking whereas others support a full 6 degrees of freedom. (See the “Degrees of Freedom” section in the glossary for more details.)

Tethered VR HMDs

More powerful – and generally higher resolution –  Virtual Reality HMDs will need to be connected to a relatively powerful PC - make sure your computer has the required features. Here are some of the more popular devices in this category:

Maintaining Proper Device Hygiene

Because of the high cost of XR devices, these are often still shared, especially in the workplace. However, the proximity of the hardware to our eyes, nose, and mouth -- not to mention the constant handling of controls and need to adjust the headset with our hands -- heightens the risk of transmitting bacteria and viruses between users. 

While this has always been an issue, the current global health crisis has put the need for maintaining high levels of device hygiene top of mind. While XR is potentially a great way to maintain human connections even while practicing social distancing, it is important to be mindful of physical hygiene best practices to ensure your device is sanitary to ensure user adoption and long-term business success.

Concentrated UVC Light Cleaning

Consider making use of one of the medical grade UV light cleaning solutions on the market. These can not only help to cut down on the overall time spent cleaning devices, but also increase the effectiveness of your device hygiene routine. They are also proven to kill 99.99% of all fungi, bacteria and viruses, such as COVID-19, that are on your devices.

Clean Controllers as well as Headsets

Controllers are often overlooked in hygiene procedures, yet on average, viruses can live on surfaces between four and five days. Users should ensure controllers and any other peripheral accessories that come in contact with the user are cleaned between rotations.Remember, Foam Inserts Don’t Enable Effective Cleaning of Headsets

The porous foam that usually sits on the inside of HMDs allows for bodily fluids to easily seep into the material, preventing wipes from effectively cleaning headsets. We recommend all devices should be either covered with a waterproof headset cover or coated in a waterproofing chemical before making use of alcohol-based wipes (60% isopropyl alcohol). You might also consider using a neoprene cover for your VR devices to provide additional protection. At an absolute minimum you should use sanitary disposable liners.

Follow Rigorous Hand Cleaning Procedures

People handling XR devices -- at conferences, location-based entertainment (LBE), or other shared environments (once it is safe to congregate in such places once again) – should always have a ready supply of alcohol-based (60% or higher) hand sanitiser which should be applied before the wearer handles the headset. If possible, the users should wash their hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds instead.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding Covid-19 (also known as the Coronavirus) you are advised to follow up-to-date information from the World Health Organization.