UL, a leading global safety science company, recently announced that it will pursue a new standard, UL 8400, addressing safety for augmented, virtual, and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR).
As part of the UL 8400 development process, UL Standards—part of Underwriters Laboratories, the nonprofit entity within UL—is seeking equipment and component manufacturers, suppliers and others associated with the AR/VR/MR industries to participate on the Standards Technical Panel that will draft the standard.
The announcement was made by Ibrahim Jilani, business development director, consumer technologies at UL, at the 2019 VR/AR Global Summit in Vancouver. At the event, Jilani highlighted areas of key concern including weight and neck strain, optical radiation, eye heat exposure, and headset motion-to-photon latency. “With the mass adoption of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality equipment, balancing design and technology innovation with operational and product safety can be a challenge,” says Jilani. “UL’s goal is to keep safety in pace with innovation.”
Once developed, UL 8400 will be one of the world’s first standards dedicated to the safety of spatial computing and extended reality equipment. The development of UL 8400 will utilize the existing technical requirements of UL 62368-1, an existing safety standard developed to mitigate risks of electrical and fire hazards in audio/video, information, and communication technology equipment.
The development of UL 8400 is concurrent with and in response to predicted AR/VR/MR market growth. The combination of more affordable, compact devices, advances in 5G and Wi-Fi six technologies, and skilled software developers has made this area ripe for growth—with analysts forecasting that consumers will be using more than 100 million AR/VR/MR headsets and smart glasses by 2023. (Source: Gartner’s 2019 Unified Retail Retailer Survey.)
“With the growth in AR/VR/MR products, such as head-mounted and holographic displays and VR simulators, comes a need for consistent safety standards that provides clarity to manufacturers and addresses gaps in safety testing in the absence of a standard dedicated to the technology,” Jilani says.
Anyone interested in providing input for the development of UL 8400 and joining its Standards Technical Panel should contact Deborah Prince, standards program manager at Underwriters Laboratories.