Date of Award
Virtual reality technology is a rapidly growing field of computer science. Virtual reality utilizes headsets which cover the user’s eyes, nose, and forehead. In this study, I analyzed the potential for these headsets to become contaminated with bacteria. The nosepieces and foreheads of two HTC Vive VR headsets of the Department of Computer Science of the University of Mississippi were sampled over the course of a seven-week Immersive Media (CSCI 447) course. Serial dilutions were performed, and samples were plated on various culture media. Following incubation, counts of bacteria were determined. DNA was extracted from bacterial growth on plates from weeks 4, 5, 6, and 7 and the 16S rRNA gene was sequenced to identify bacterial contaminates present on the headsets. Chief among these contaminates was Staphylococcus aureus. Presumed Staphylococcus aureus colonies from mannitol salt agar plates were tested for resistance to the antibiotics penicillin, erythromycin, gentamycin, and tetracycline. The results of these tests indicated that the Staphylococcus aureus strains isolated from the headsets possessed high levels of antibiotic resistance. Other notable bacterial isolates included Moraxella osloensis, the bacteria responsible for foul odors in laundry and Micrococcus luteus, a communalistic bacterial species capable of causing opportunistic infections. Other bacterial isolates were detected in variable amounts throughout the trial. Results indicate that headsets pose a significant health hazard to users, especially those who are immunocompromised. Increased sterilization techniques are necessary to ensure the health and safety of users.
Creel, Benjamin, "Bacterial Load in Virtual Reality Headsets" (2020). Honors Theses. 1384.
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