While there are a multitude of VR games that don’t ask much from you besides sitting on the couch, if your goal is being fit then you’ll have to move a lot more. Thankfully, whether you feel like doing squats, punching out a bunch of drunks, or re-living your laser tag days, you have access to several ways to have fun and break a sweat doing it. But that’s the problem: sweat and electronics do not mix. Specifically, sweat and head-mounted displays.
A little condensation and your expensive piece of hardware can be ruined. Or consider when you have your friends over, and you’re all passing around the headset. Everything between sweat, skin, and make-up can be left behind by the time it makes it back to your face. Unless your idea of a good time is sharing germs with your buds, then you might want a solution. VR Cover has one.
There have been past attempts to make wearing an HMD more comfortable and hygienic. Two notable creators have been About Face VR as well as a determined man with a sock and a sense of craftsmanship. VR Cover, on the other hand, has recently come out with a solution that doesn’t require repeated washings: disposable hygiene covers. Their product, currently available for the HTC Vive, is billed to be perfect for VR fitness users, those who share their headset with friends, and those who attend large-scale events and exhibitions.
What You Get from VR Cover
VR Cover’s Starter Kit for the HTC Vive comes with the base foam, which replaces the original padding that comes with the headset, as well as a pack of disposable covers that contain either 10, 25, 50, or 100 covers. As is the case with certain retailers, buying in bulk nets you the better deal. The base foam is made out of PU leather. That’s short for polyurethane leather, which means no cows were harmed in its production. The covers themselves are made out of an absorbent material that can handle a “high level of moisture.”
The disposable covers are simple to use and don’t interfere with Vive operation. Remove the HTC Vive’s padding, replace it with the water-resistant base foam, and apply the cover on top of that like a Band-Aid except without the pain. The product page includes a video that shows users how all of that is done properly just to reduce any confusion. While the video is helpful by itself, it also showcases VR Cover’s user-focused experience. They have an active presence answering questions on Reddit, and have gone so far as to upload a demonstration to clarify issues a user had with another product.
The base foam is also thinner than the Vive’s original padding. This means that you’re that much closer to the lens. As a result, you have a much wider field of vision. Your VR experience is more immersive than it was before.
What we really need to know, though, is whether or not the disposable covers mitigate the sweat problem. With the added layer, keeping the headset clean doesn’t boil down to giving the headset a quick wipe-down. You can just rip the old cover off and replace it with a fresh one. Ryan from VR Cover adds that the covers had been tested heavily during workout use. They found the covers “really do help combat sweat issues we had in the past.”
The same problem that plagues one-size-fits-all products is here, too. Reviews were universal regarding the comfort of the PU leather compared to the in-box padding. However, some users found the fit perfect, while others found it wanting. Custom headsets for every user isn’t an option so right now so this problem will persist.
Additionally, if you compare your headset to a car that you need to take into the shop for this or that upgrade, the disposable covers sound like another peripheral you had been doing fine without.
Are the Covers Worth It?
The Disposable Hygiene Starter Kit will cost $15 for the base foam with 10 covers, $19 with 25 covers, $27 with 50 covers, and $39 for 100 covers. VR Cover sells covers separately for the same prices above, minus the $10 cost of the base foam. The disposable covers alone are compatible with any PU leather foam replacement.
The sanitary value the covers add to the headset are practically a requirement for high-volume VR events. But the story might be different for private consumers who don’t share their headset with anyone. There is also the expense issue to think about as well.
The covers are only available for the HTC Vive at the time of this writing. VR Cover provides additional products for Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, and Samsung Gear users.