July 12, 2021

Musing #5: Aiming for the Middle


In the heat of our current pandemic scramble, a clear continuum exists: 

the “covidiot to covidian” spectrum.  

At one extreme lies the covidiot. The covidiot is not afraid of contracting Covid-19 for any number of reasons. For example, s/he sees himself/herself as invincible or as the victim of a government ruse. Whatever the reason, life must go on. The covidian, to the contrary, sees the possibility of contamination around every corner and is driven by miserable fear. You can identify a covidiot because she will enter a busy store without a mask; you can distinguish a covidian because he will be driving a car all alone, wearing a mask. I find myself somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, guided by science, data, and keen self-awareness. 

So here’s the rub: technical hygiene standards for virtual reality in schools are really aimed at the large crowd in the middle. Most covidiots will ignore, fake or delay adhering to hygiene standards unless forced to do so; covidians will see such standards as “not enough” and are likely to “just stay home”.  Now let’s apply this spectrum in real life. Take for example the AMC theater hygiene standards, which are fairly comprehensive, in my way of thinking. I have seen covidiots take their masks off after the theater goes dark, even though our state requires masking indoors. Conversely, I have numerous covidian acquaintances who would never go to a theater, no matter what safety standards are in place.

 So, safety standards really benefit the sensible middle, not the extremes. They are aimed at the thinker, the analyzer, the realist, and the rationalist. In the main, businesses are hoping that catering to the middle can carry them through our unfortunate economic hard times.

July 5, 2021

Musing #4: What’s missing?


    Isn’t there more to safety than merely disinfecting any shared equipment? In the Hologate VR standards for location-based entertainment (see my previous post in this series), what’s missing is physical distancing of customers, masking, temperature taking, reduced facility capacity, staff testing and hand washing, air and HEPA filters, and ‘enhanced’ facility disinfecting, and other ‘enhanced’ disinfecting procedures. Does education offer their own industry-preferred hygiene standards for VR equipment use? Can you think of anything that is missing from the procedures/practices followed in your school or university? What's missing?

June 28, 2021

Musing #3: The AOA Weighs In


Hygiene standards for VR headgear (and previously, 3D glasses) in schools have been top of mind for the doctors and scientists of the American Optometric Association (AOA), long before the current Covid crisis ever erupted. Although there have been no reported instances of problems and no published studies, the American Optometric Association informs us that the eye can be an important route of microbial exposure. Their recommendations, which can be viewed as hygiene standards, are summarized here: 

Teachers and children should be instructed to ask about the cleanliness of headgear; hand washing before use would be helpful; cleaning the VR headgear with cold disinfecting systems between uses or employ existing UV cabinets (found in many science classrooms) will provide additional disinfecting and anti-microbial protection between uses.”

June 21, 2021

Musing #2: AMC Technical Hygiene Standards

  In this post, we continue some blunt musings about Covid-aware hygiene standards, especially national and industry-specific standards. Come along with us for an untamed ride of nuance and perspective through the wilderness of covidian concern.


AMC standards. The most comprehensive set of hygiene standards in the theater industry are those of the AMC theater chain. Here is a list of their official covid-era hygiene steps, which is impressive to say the least:

  • social distancing
  • masks required
  • reduced auditorium capacities
  • cashless transactions
  • hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes
  • simplified menus Refills and condiments by request only
  • daily associate health screenings
  • frequent hand washing encouraged
  • self-check reminders (don’t come if sick)
  • enhanced cleaning procedures, advised by Clorox
  • electrostatic disinfectant sprayers
  • upgraded NMERV 13 Air filters
  • HEPA filter vacuums

Apparently, AMC is serious about getting their customers back. I have been seem numerous movies, in theater, since the pandemic started, and these improvements are clearly visible to the customer.

June 14, 2021

Musing #1: National vs Local

  In the next four posts, we provide some blunt musings about Covid-aware hygiene standards, especially national and industry-specific standards. Come along with us for an untamed ride of nuance and perspective through the wilderness of covidian concern.


Musing #1: Industry-specific versus national standards. An educator in a previous post bemoaned the lack of national standards for cleaning shared equipment in schools. I suspect he felt that local educational practices were either insufficient, thinly followed, or poorly communicated. Thus he pined for more and stricter guidance from on high. 

I wonder if national or even state standards are in fact superior to industry-specific and location-contextualized standards? I am reminded by the complete lockdowns of hair salons in California, while here in Colorado, salons go on about their business in complete safety, following sensible safety standards—with no resultant infections. Can bureaucrats, sitting at a distance, really make the kinds of safety decisions that best fit a local educational community? I think not. 

The CDC recently posted the study results of a potential Covid spread in a Springfield, Missouri hair salon. Two stylists, who subsequently serviced more than 139 patrons, were initially infected. After testing these paying customers, the CDC found “all test results were negative”. Their conclusion? “Adherence to the community’s and company’s face-covering policy likely mitigated spread of SARS-CoV-2”. See the study summary for yourself. The bottom line is that I am suspicious of state or national standards over the local or industry-specific standards.  Looking at the California example, it is all-too-easy it is to overthink the situation and punitively disconnect safety standards from actual science.

June 7, 2021

Systematizing VR Hygiene

 Over the last two posts we spoke about the Hologate standards for cleaning shared VR environments. Yet the Hologate standards also implore us to systematize and be more intentional about our hygiene efforts with VR systems in education. The standards emphasize the need to ensure that “staff understands that constantly cleaning and disinfecting is now one of their top priorities”. 

In reviewing their standards, I strongly support their admonition to “slow down and adjust the throughput expectations for your team and customers to make accommodations for these added cleaning procedures”. 
Turnaround time on educational facilities or shared equipment in K12 or higher ed settings will need to be adjusted upwards. Similarly, their suggestion to “take photos and video of your team in action and post on your social media channels to let everyone know what you are doing” is sound advice. It instills confidence in an environment that has become all-too-scary on its own. Such a smart public-facing posture is vital, since educational environments tend to be more afraid of Covid-19 than commercial environments are.

May 31, 2021

The Hologate Standards

Last week we spoke about the Hologate standards for cleaning shared VR environments. Of particular interest is in these standards is Hologate’s concern over the opacity of any organization’s disinfecting efforts. Hologate strongly calls for highly visible action in this regard. They explain: “Post coronavirus, it is imperative to instill the confidence that everything is being done for your customer’s health and safety”. They add, “perception is everything and confidence can be gained through actions that are visible. They remind us to have staff “be diligent and highly visible by customers when disinfecting between uses” and to position “customer anti-bacterial dispenser and/or disinfectant wipe stations throughout a facility so that they are visible and conveniently accessed”.

May 24, 2021

Cleaning Things Up III


In “Cleaning Things Up II I mentioned one educator pleaded for guidance, asking:

“Don’t we have any national disinfecting standards to follow?”

Standards that can guide educators and others in this timely hygiene challenge do indeed exist. Take for example the recent Hologate hygiene and safety standards for virtual reality available for download here.  These standards are designed to “bring a uniform process to the location-based entertainment industry”, but are clearly applicable to other shared equipment environments or educational facilities. Although one must heed any local and national laws/regulations as well as the published guidance of government health agencies, the Hologate standards “are based on [our] years of experience operating systems and attractions”, they elaborate.

Some important perspectives are offered in the above standards document. Hologate reminds us about our changing times by suggesting “post coronavirus, we must accept the reality that we will be unable to operate as we have before. Cleanliness and disinfection will have to become paramount to customer’s confidence in enjoying our attractions and location-based entertainment”. These standards also remind us that hygiene must be maintained by professionals, and not merely “left to the customer” to address on their own.

Although location-based entertainment has suffered greatly during the recent economic and viral downturn, there is much to be learned for application in other environments, such as the education sector. The Hologate standards document reminds us that “virtual reality headsets and accessories [and, I would add historically, 3D glasses] have always been the target and topic of hygiene conversations, so it’s more important than ever to make sure that you have proper cleaning”.

In short, the VR hygiene methods recommended by Hologate are outlined below, and apply to headsets, controllers, vests, and fasteners alike:

  • Check, Clean, Dry (see the standards for a detailed breakdown)
  • Use sanitizing wipes
  • Employ Disposable VR Mask covers
  • Consider UVC light cleaning as an added defense

May 17, 2021

Cleaning Things Up II

Many of us are now hyperaware (almost to the point of bacillophobia) of cleaning often-used equipment surfaces in the education sector. One educator summarizes the covid-cleaning predicament in schools and universities in this way:

The problem with the virus is that it is invisible and so people tend to over-sanitize, taking up the mindset that the surfaces are [always] infected”.

In order to understand the depths of concern about this hygiene issue at the grassroots level in schools, let’s use some examples from a recent educational discussion forum recently playing out in Ireland.

Here are some of the key questions emerging, paraphrased here, but expressed by actual teachers:

-       Is it enough for children to wash hands or disinfect hands before and after using the laptop or iPad? 

-        Is it okay to use sprays on digital equipment?

-        How can we make this process less cumbersome?

-        Must we turn devices off when cleaning them?

-        How can we get a lab of devices ready for the next class?

-        Are protective keyboard covers worth the investment?

-        What vendors are you using for cleaning materials?

-        Don’t we have any national disinfecting standards to follow?

You can tell by the last question that it’s a jungle out there, with classroom teachers/professors largely left on their own to solve this in any way they can. 

May 10, 2021

Keeping Things Clean


In my last post, I asked “How can schools and universities address the acute hygiene problem” presented by shared school resources like VR headgear? I remembered a posting on the nearly 12,000 strong VR/AR Media Group on LinkedIn, to which I paid little attention at first, but which now grew afresh in my mind. Apparently, Uvisan (a UK company) rolled out a noteworthy UVC cabinet touting the highest photobiological safety ratings. I interviewed Anthony Graham, Distribution Manager for Uvisan, who emphasized: “All of our equipment has RoHS and CE certification and UV efficacy has been subjected to extensive laboratory testing to guarantee maximum effectiveness.”

The history on this product was fascinating to me. Immotion Group, a UK-based out-of-home VR company, had apparently developed a "Pre-covid" UVC cabinet for MGM, owners of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas as part of a 36 seat motion platform VR Theatre in their their Shark Reef aquarium facility.  The ‘disinfecting’ cabinet technology enabled Mandalay to sanitize and simultaneously charge the headsets between showings of Immotion’s undersea VR short films. Then, as the pandemic spread, Graham recounted “we decided to put the research and effort that went into our cabinets to good use and create Uvisan as a stand-alone solution”. As the Covid crisis expanded, Mr. Graham rationalized that “the short disinfecting cycle, charging and security capabilities made it a perfect fit for many organizations”. Graham underlined that their UV anti-bacterial cleaning cabinets will support much more than VR headsets: tablets, tools, AV equipment, and phone headsets are also now supported.  [I would expect that this could also apply, in an educational context, to headphones, earphones, science probes/apparatus, utensils, and other instructional instruments used by waves of students.]

As far as the VR origins of this product,  Graham noted that “the cabinets were originally designed for VR Headsets, and we have a range of sizes that can house, sanitize and charge 12, 20 and up to 30 headsets, using our specifically placed 254nm low pressure medical-grade UV lamps to give maximum surface coverage.” But he added that the Uvisan cabinets are alternatively able to support up to 100 phones and 50 tablets. I asked Mr. Graham about any educational customers that were using this tool, and he responded “We have Chichester University and London College of the Arts using our cabinets in an educational setting and enquiries from others coming in daily.” He also mention the installations thye had in place with the Academcy of Applied Sciences in Germany. Graham also offered this case study on the Chichester implementation.

Some other customers who have found this solution particularly valuable include the VR sport business HADO (who told Graham that “they could not have run a championship event unless they had the cabinet to rapidly sanitize the headsets”) and the British Film Institute, who recently used their cabinets at a VR event which was part of this year's London Film Festival.  Graham concludes: “We have a very versatile, safe and effective product and we are now seeing demand coming through from healthcare and industrial partners.”

Can educational institutions afford this solution? It's an attention getting offering....

May 3, 2021

Grungy VR: Story

Having borrowed the gear nearly a week beforehand, I finally found some disposable time to sit down and give my son’s Oculus Quest VR a robust test drive. I was so looking forward to “taking her for a spin”. With great anticipation I held the headgear in my hands, studying how to best don the peculiar looking cap, when suddenly I froze with apprehension. Looking at the soft surface designed to make a tight fit over my eyes and forehead, I noticed it was particularly dirty, questionably so, and thought to myself “Do I want to clean this darn thing before I put it on?” Given the angst of possibly courting any unwanted and unexpected covidian germs, I slowed down to think it all through, especially given the ugly and scummy surface that lurked distastefully in front of me.

It was then no surprise that this unseemly encounter shifted my thinking towards the thousands of schools/universities that use similar VR or AR headgear, and how the threat of covid-related sanitary issues has already put the kibosh on the use of this technology in classrooms. I wondered “How can schools and universities address this acute hygiene problem?”

Now, back to the borrowed and grungy headgear, which I described in the first paragraph. It’s all in the family, I thought, so I put on the soiled HMD on and went ahead with my virtual journey. I am certain I would not do that in an educational institution, however, because no one has any idea where all those little foreheads have been. Fortunately, there are some commercial-grade solutions now available to educational institutions to specifically address these hygiene concerns. We'll look at those solutions over the next few weeks.

June 19, 2020

Why Visualization is Better

I learned a lot from the Pandemic, mostly from the epic educational fails I’ve observed. I’ve seen parents at their wit’s end, teachers pushed beyond their capacity, and technologies that don’t quite have the ‘umph’ to get the job done. I’ve also seen Zoom fatigue set in, lessons shortened to make weak learning experiences a bit more palatable, and student boredom reign supreme.

Isn’t there a better way to do remote learning / online teaching / blended learning or whatever other form of classroom learning we can expect to wrestle with in the coming school year? Isn’t there a better way for educators to prepare for the unexpected? There certainly is. One answer rests in using visualization as a powerful teaching method. John Medina, the author of the bestselling book, Brain Rules, explains it this way: “Vision trumps all other senses... We learn more, faster, and retain learning longer if we use image rich content.” According to Medina, this “phenomenon is so pervasive, it has been given its own name: the pictorial superiority effect, or PSE.

One of the new learning technologies now coming on to the scene—the expansive 3D visualization library from CubeDigiCo—enables such a richly visual learning experience. For example, imagine a science animation that conveys through rich animation the process of photosynthesis in glorious 3D.

More than words that are spoken or still pictures in an ebook, this delightfully visual and animated 5-minute video vignette can convey complex concepts to children in a way that registers with the way they truly learn. And it conveys the information quickly, so that learner attention spans are not strained. (My experience is that these 3D animations are so visually appealing that students will not mind watching them more than once. See this example vignette.)

The quiet explosion these 3D visualization technologies in K12 schools enable a richer learning experience, magically ushering the learning at hand into the “mind’s eye.” Let’s reduce repetitive drill and practice programs, dull e-book readings, take-home packets, and uncomfortable Zoom sessions and move forward using a more richly visual canvas.

April 18, 2020

XR Summit

The XR Immersive Enterprise: Global Online Edition is coming in May...

Join thousands of online attendees for Reuters Events’ premium online strategy summit and unlock the value of VR and AR for enterprise. It’s taking place on May 5-7, Eastern Time, and it’s totally free of charge!

Find out more and register your place free of charge now

5 reasons to join XR Immersive Enterprise: Global Online Edition…
  1. Plan your 2021 strategy with expert speaker keynotes sharing insights on the XR market, the impact of Covid-19 and the future of remote working
  2. Takeaway valuable lessons from the live panel and Q&A sessions on the hottest topics for XR: Training, design, collaboration, integration and scale
  3. Learn from example with confirmed case studies from huge enterprise names such as Volvo, UPS, Anglo American, SAP, Thomson Reuters and Raytheon
  4. Don’t miss a thing – your registration gives you access to all the sessions on-demand, and make sure you connect with leading XR solution providers in the digital exhibition
  5. Stay safe at home with all these business insights free of charge to view at your leisure and help you plan for the immersive future
Reserve your free pass to the digital conference now

January 20, 2020

Be there! See my unique VR presentation at SXSWedu entitled: 

This session is scehduled for March 9 at 3:30 p.m. I'll see you there.

January 14, 2020

Another interesting Webinar!

This is a free webinar, yet the content can be highly valuable for people both working and interested in the field. You’ll learn about the different approaches and lessons learned, as well as the best ways to prove the value of XR to management and peers.   

Here's the link to register : https://bit.ly/2QRAyOJ

December 17, 2019

A VR Webinar

Tomorrow! Wednesday

I encourage our readers to attend the upcoming webinar: how VR and AR/MR are changing training, education and worker guidance. This webinar is featuring speakers from Volvo, Aggreko, Boston Children’s Hospital and Virtualware.

This is a free webinar, yet the content can be highly valuable for people both working and interested in the field. You’ll learn about the different training styles, as well as the biggest challenges, opportunities and productivity gains when using XR.  

Sign up here https://bit.ly/2S1GVjO

August 12, 2019

Pricing Failure & VR

We've been talking about “pricing failure.” (See last two posts ) 

Fast-forwarding to virtual reality as we know it today, we don't need to look hard to see the same pricing failures, as greedy companies race to the highest price point for educational customers. And, frankly, schools simply cannot afford it. On the other hand, the ‘freemium’ pricing model is increasingly popular these days, where starting base of VR resources is free, but the best, the premium resources, have a price tag. And when we brush away the ‘free’ part of freemium, my oh my, that price is a hefty one. Sticker shock immediately sets in like concrete, preventing “the buy” or the reasonable scaling of virtual reality in the classroom. Especially when the offer comes as annual licensing as opposed to perpetual licensing.

Will a few greedy companies destroy this industry for the rest of us, before it has a chance to get legs? Just to make a killing? Strike gold? Since content is king, will content price failures undermine any hoped-for trajectory for hardware sales? Or will the freemium strategy, now increasing in frequency, pay off? One thing is for sure: if pricing failures get in the way of technologies reaching the educational market, then sic transit gloria mundi—“thus passes the glory of the world.” Or VR.

August 5, 2019

Pricing Failure (2)

We've been talking about “pricing failure.” (See last post for an introduction.)  

The opposite of “pricing success”, a “pricing failure” bursts on the scene when there isn’t a clear correlation between an item’s cost and its value/quality. It reminds me of a serious pricing failure, one I witnessed in the educational marketplace. Yes, I remember it distinctly, during the years of the initial stereo 3D explosion in film, displays, and projectors. A top-level manager from the DLP group at Texas Instruments whispered to me the hard truth: how the pricing set forth by just one or two educational 3D software producers was so rapacious, that those companies almost brought down the entire 3D industry/market in education—by steeply overpricing their content. I was there. I saw the gut-wrenching reaction of educational buyers. The pricing was, well, ridiculous. And this is still true about many promising technologies in education. Pricing failure is more common than one would think. 

Stay tuned for next week's conclusion about the potential for pricing failure in the expanding virtual reality world.

July 29, 2019

Is VR Headed for a Pricing Failure?

The evening weather was hot and unforgiving, the humidity beyond palpable. Not a great time to be wearing a suit in Puerto Vallarta, I thought, nevertheless enjoying the enchanting gourmet meal set out with certain elegance before me. I found myself here at the well-appointed Hacienda San Angel hotel, on a hilltop above the beautiful Guadalupe Church, not very far from the connected casitas that hosted Richard Burton and Liz Taylor in 1964.

The occasion for my visit was a destination wedding, a joyous gathering for the daughter of long-time friends and frequent co-travellers. Next to me sat a world-renowned New York City surgeon, “the” specialist in his field. He had invented and perfected successful medical procedures that were adopted all across the world. Yet, he was such a kind and unassuming man. 

He softly nodded and asked me: “What is it that you do?” 

I responded: “I work in the field of education, with a particular emphasis on 3D visualization and virtual reality.” 

A pleasant conversation ensued, but also a whirlwind of discovery. The conversation led to the use of 3D surgery in his field. He saw 3D surgery as a laudable development, but one that remained impractical. “Why?” I asked. He explained carefully and methodically that current medical surgical procedures were quite effective. He added that 3D surgery did, in fact, offer a number of incremental advantages and improvements. But the price offered to hospitals made the decision an easy one: it wasn’t worth the money to gain some benefits on the margin. The price for 3D surgical equipment was just too high. It just made no sense to switch to this nascent and ‘smart’ technology. So everyone in his field, for the most part, he explained, has stayed with traditional surgical methods. In fact, his manner changed slightly, as a bit of soft-anger oozed out, oddly contrasting with his normally calm demeanor. 

“They can’t expect us to pay those prices,” he charged.

That, dear readers, is what we call a “pricing failure.”  Join us the next two weeks for a look at the possibility of pricing failure in the flourishing VR world.