In this episode of the VR Expert Podcast we sat down with David Cartwright, Head of Sales at Uvisan. David has been leading the growth of Uvisan for over 12 months to achieve the companies ambition of becoming the global leader in UVC technology, the go-to place for all things UVC. In our interview, we discuss what the Uvisan is, how companies are using it and how it compares to its key competitor. Listen to the episode now to find out!
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Welcome to the VR Expert Podcast. I’m your host Mark, Marketing Manager for VR Expert, and in this podcast we’ll be sitting down with innovators, experts and creators transforming the XR world.
In today’s episode, I’m delighted to be joined by David Cartwright, Head of Sales for Uvisan. He’s an out-of-the-box thinker able to find solutions to any problem, and under his lead Uvisan has seen tremendous growth and continues to expand globally.
“Uvisan?”, you might be asking. Uvisan is a company focused on providing UVC light disinfection of rooms and equipment, with a key focus on VR and AR devices.
First of all, thank you for joining us, David.
Hi, Mark. Thanks for having me.
First of all, as I always do, I wanna ask how you actually got into this type of technology?
That’s a good question. I’ve been with Uvisan now for maybe just over 12 months. I probably fell into it rather than by design. It was actually through connections to the directors of a company that I used to work for a couple of years ago. I guess Uvisan was very much in their infancy at the time and were looking for someone to help it grow and push it forward. Conveniently, I was also in a position where I was looking for a new role.
So, we kinda had a chat. I started with Uvisan, loved the idea, loved the products. Obviously, it was very, very topical at the time, as it was quite close to the beginning of the pandemic. And so, something to really get stuck into and get the teeth in.
Interesting. So, part of it was the group that you knew is what actually drove you to be a part of it, or had you heard that they were working on this product before?
It’s more the people, I guess, to be totally honest. I had worked with the guys before, great guys to work with. I just reached out to see what they were up to and what potential opportunities there were, and as luck would have it, Uvisan was there, and as I said, very much in its infancy at the time.
I think we’re gonna come on a little bit later, but Uvisan was never really supposed to be its own business. That was sort of born out of necessity. I know there’s a section for us to talk about that in a bit more detail later on.
Well, why don’t you say it straight away? I think our listeners are probably wondering what the story is.
Sure, no worries. So, the background to Uvisan, it’s actually a part of a larger company called Immotion Group, and they’re a VR location-based entertainment company. They have a number of installs around the world. The biggest one, and probably the one of note, is the one on Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and this is actually where the VR disinfection cabinets were actually invented, purely for the purpose of disinfecting the headsets.
It’s a 40-seat virtual reality aquarium, with a lot of footfall. So, there’s a natural requirement to share headsets amongst users, and with that comes a requirement to make sure they’re properly cleaned, disinfected, and you’re not spreading infection. And because of that, the team were actually looking for a solution to be able to make sure that the headsets were gonna be safe for the next person to use.
At the time, I think the only real product available on the market was CleanBox, which is a great product. It can be particularly expensive when you’re looking at a number of seats. You would have to go as far as maybe even buying 40 CleanBoxes to make it work in an environment where turnaround times are key. You couldn’t have users queuing up with one CleanBox to be able to put one headset in at a time. It needs to all be done simultaneously in order to minimize that downtime.
And so, the team went and actually developed the Uvisan UVC cabinets specifically for the install in Mandalay Bay. So now, instead of having 40 CleanBoxes, they have two of the large cabinets. That can actually accommodate up to 60 headsets, but it’s good to have the space. They’re good for peripherals and controllers. They don’t necessarily have controllers in that particular venue, but things like Ipads tend to get used, they can all be disinfected in the cabinets.
It can all be locked away, put in there, disinfected. The latest cabinets now only have a two-minute disinfection cycle. Beforehand it was five minutes. So, the ones that were installed at the time were five minutes, and now it’s down to two minutes. And it has that great ability as well to be able to put the headsets in overnight, locked away in a steel cabinet, always secure, always charged – the cabinets charge as well – and are always safe.
So, Uvisan is UVC disinfection cabinets, and you said there is one that does 20, and 30 is the large. Is that all that Uvisan offers at the moment?
There are three cabinets in the range. We have our VR12, which is for 12 headsets, VR20 for 20 headsets, and VR30 for 30 headsets. It’s important to acknowledge that that’s on the basis of a relatively small headset, something like a Pico (Pico G2 4K). Whereas a larger headset (HP Reverb G2), you would fit less in. The charging ports within the cabinets do correspond to those numbers – 12 in the small, 20 in the medium, 30 in the large.
And one thing that it says about Uvisan is that it offers 99.99% bacterial disinfection. I’m not a scientist, but how does the UVC light exactly work, and how do you kill 99.99% of the bacteria?
So, how the UVC light works, I’ll have to give a very brief version. The real technical side isn’t so much my bag. From my understanding, it alters the genetic makeup of the viruses themselves and prevents them from being able to reproduce, and renders them effectively dead. It kills all the viruses. Any more technical than that, I would probably be guessing, if I’m honest. But in terms of guaranteeing the efficacy, it’s actually very well-published, the UVC dosage required to kill a range of pathogens.
UVC technology isn’t a new thing. It’s been tested and tested, and it’s very easy to find the information of what dosage is required to kill certain pathogens. So, we can use that information, and we can also put that alongside something called a dosimeter, which will allow us to see what the UVC dosage is at any given point. So, our Head of Engineering and Technology Arek has done over 2500 tests within the cabinet to check the UVC dose at any given point within there.
So, we can guarantee how much UVC radiation is at any point within the cabinet, and using the information published, we can then calculate exactly what kill rate we can boast about.
So, he’s done 2500 tests. Is this something that separates you from your competitors? You also mentioned the size. What’s the main differentiator of Uvisan for companies wanting to use UVC?
I mean, the testing is always a very difficult one, to try and guess what other companies are doing, and their way of testing things. First and foremost, the biggest difference is the 360-degree surface disinfection. There are companies like CleanBox where the UVC light is specifically targeted at the area of the headset that touches the face, and so the vast majority of viral transmission will happen through where your hands touch the headset, not necessarily where your face does. And so, there’s a big difference there.
That’s not to say that there’s not a number of companies out there- and CleanBox themselves have a 360-degree disinfection unit. I guess it comes down to things like – as you touched upon, the size. We can get up to 30 headsets in one of our large cabinets. So, you kind of calculate that to a per-headset cost, and that makes it significantly cheaper. A lot of the single-headset disinfection units, you’re probably talking 1500-2000 dollars or something like that, whereas our large cabinet is probably around 5500 dollars (4,525 Euros from VR Expert). So, you divide that by 30, and suddenly you’ve got a very appealing product at a very cheap price.
That’s just part of it. There’s a number of other things. For example, the charging ports that we mentioned. The device was actually designed to be almost like a new home for your headsets. We’ve spoken to so many companies where the existing method is to just leave the headset on charge on a worktop somewhere, there for the taking for anyone who wants to walk past. Now, with the Uvisan cabinet, it can be locked away, charged up. It’s secure. All the charging ports are fast-charge as well.
And then, almost as an added bonus, you’ve got the UVC disinfection on top of that. It depends on the individual company, but hopefully that gives you a good idea of all of the different features.
So, you said all these amazing features. Can you talk about some companies that have been receiving benefits from the Uvisan, and how they’re using them?
I guess the areas we see the most success in are always going to be the companies that have a large amount of VR headsets, like a natural turnover of them and a requirement for them to be shared. Universities in particular have been fantastic customers for us. A lot of classes now do use VR as part of their curriculum. If your have a class full of students that go and use the headsets, they’re going to take them off and…
Early pandemic, a lot of the universities we were talking to, devices such as this would then be quarantined for 72 hours before the next class was allowed to use them. Now, they go into the cabinet, 2 minutes later they’re good to go. So, anywhere where there’s a turnover and a requirement to share devices.
And it’s not just for VR headsets. We do have a number of clients where they’re being used, particularly in schools where children have access to iPads, they often get shared as well, and they can still be stacked up within the cabinets, charged overnight should they need to be, or disinfected. Anything that has that natural requirement to share devices, which is a lot of places, I guess these days.
Is there any area where you never thought it would be used that it’s also being used at the moment, like waste management or something like that, where you thought this would never make sense?
The best one, I would guess, and one we are good to say who it is is Aardman Studios. They were actually using the cabinets to aid their production of one of the Shaun the Sheep films. So, from my understanding, the poor guys that were having to do it before they got hold of our cabinets, they would set up the characters, and once they’d done the shot, they would then need a team of people to come in and clean Wallace and Gromit, and it’s a very long process.
Now, with the cabinets, they’re able to place them inside. This is just on the basis of my understanding, that that will disinfect the characters whilst making the stop-motion animation films. So, a bit of an out-of-the-box one, I guess. We never expected it to be used there, but there you go.
Interesting. Back to virtual reality, I can imagine there are lots of headset manufacturers who have, during the pandemic, seen there’s a need for disinfection. How have headset manufacturers been receptive to the Uvisan?
It’s been very good. The reaction has been very positive. So, we are actually officially recommended by Hewlett-Packard as a method of disinfecting HMD’s. They did a number of different tests. Without going into much details and boring you guys, in essence they placed their devices in the cabinets for one week to simulate over a year’s worth of use. And this is always on. The main purpose of the test was to ensure there was no degradation or damage caused to the devices.
As a result, we are now officially recommended by Hewlett-Packard and listed in their cleaning guide. The cabinet’s been tested by Varjo as well. RealWear are testing them. Microsoft also recently took one of the cabinets to be used in a show. They need to display their fantastic products, right? At a show where there’s gonna be lots of footfall, lots of people wanting to have a look and test the HoloLens, there needs to be a way to guarantee that they’re not gonna be spreading infection. Luckily, they chose Uvisan.
That’s fantastic. It seems that they’re recognizing it, which is very important. Why do you think UVC disinfection cabinets haven’t been the norm up to this point? Most people, I remember- before the pandemic, the most you heard of was disinfectant wipes. Why do you think it didn’t catch on before? I mean, germs and bacteria have always been an issue, especially at these conferences. Why do you think it didn’t catch on earlier?
It’s hard to say. I would guess, as often is the case, although people can be aware of an issue, there’s very rarely the desire to do something about it until it becomes a requirement. I think people were aware of it before, and just sort of accepted it was there. They’ve had wipes around, and people have used that. It’s only when something like a pandemic comes along that people really look at what needs to be done.
And then, with things like disinfection wipes, it’s not exactly the best combination with expensive electronic devices. Before you know it, you’re gonna have headsets that don’t work, you’re gonna have screen mist. Only when it got to a point where you have to be doing this constantly does it really become an issue. The sad thing with it is, to actually really get the benefit, you have to do a pretty thorough clean.
It sounds fantastic. You said you’ve been there for only 12 months. What is the next steps for Uvisan? What can we expect? What are the plans?
So, the plan is to be the global leader in UVC technology, the go-to place for all things UVC. Big ambitions, but why not? We have a culture of continuous improvement. We’re always looking at ways to develop and improve the cabinet. There’s plenty of work going on in R&D. I can’t really be too specific, because as with everything in R&D, it all sounds great until you actually have to manufacture them.
I expect the cabinets to just improve. We also have other product lines in the pipeline. The other product we have is Clean Room, which I’m really excited about. Just to touch on that, it doesn’t have too much to do with VR or AR, so I won’t spend too much time on it. It’s actually capable of disinfecting entire rooms, all air and surfaces, within 10 minutes. So, it’s pretty much switching on a light switch to disinfect an entire room.
It’s worth mentioning that it has to be unoccupied. Obviously there’s dangers with UVC. We’ve gone above and beyond on the safety as well. So, it’s actually combined with what we’re calling a True Presence Detection System. That relies on things like heat, air pressure, air humidity, movement, all combined into one to make sure that the room is actually empty and safe to use. So, really excited about that one. That’s available now as well.
All those sensors in one small device – I have to admit, that’s more than you would expect. I’ve seen it, it can basically fit in both of your hands, right? It’s miniature.
The sensor itself will probably be ceiling-mounted. It’ll depend on the install. But it’ll be a fixed installation. So, if you imagine like a much bigger smoke alarm, but far more technical than a smoke alarm. It’s installed within the rooms.
That’s very exciting. For the listeners, where can they find Uvisan online?
So, you can go to uvisan.com. You can find all the information there. Of course, we have our products available through our resellers, one of the best being VR Expert. You can find us listed on there as well.
Thank you very much. And for the listeners who want to keep up with you, where can they find you online?
Me? I guess LinkedIn is probably the best way to find me. Or you can by all means drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s fantastic. David, thank you very much for taking the time to be part of the podcast. We hope that everyone listening enjoyed it.