Kiosk mode for VR headsets

Kiosk mode for VR headsets

Have you ever wanted to show a customer or a friend a cool 360 video or an app to sell your product? Only to discover this person switched apps while your weren’t paying attention? With the Kiosk mode for VR headsets you will take control of the Virtual Reality experience, while delivering your customers and friends with the experience you want them to experience. What is Kiosk mode, why use it and how can you activate this option for your Virtual Reality headset? All these questions will be answered in this article!

What is VR Kiosk mode?

If you want to show a presentation on a computer device like a computer, tablet or a Virtual Reality headset, the system will not be protected from user interaction. On a TV screen in a waiting room this is not an issue, but when a device is used with build-in interactive features this could pose a problem. With the Kiosk mode option some or all interactive features are disabled for the end user. This allows you to show an application without the possibility to switch apps or return to the home screen.

Why use a VR Kiosk mode for VR headsets?

On one hand the interactive possibilities of VR headsets are the main attraction, on the other hand it can pose a problem if you hand the VR glasses over to a potential customer. With a Virtual Reality headset in particular you lose control over the presentation at the moment the user puts on the headset. One wrong button press and the client will see the home screen or a completely different app. This will take the user out of the experience, and it can cost you precious time while a que of potential customers keeps growing longer.

How to activate advanced features on your Virtual Reality headset

Most VR glasses are created for end users or professionals, and not for promotional activities. They operate using a central interface or app launcher with easy access to all features of the headset. Restricting buttons and features is usually not a standard option. But there are several solutions to force the system in a locked off mode for presentation purposes. Here are the three most often used methods:

  1. A developer mode is activated allowing the user to configure custom settings including a Kiosk VR mode for VR headsets.
  2. The original startup sequence of the device is replaced with an alternative program.
  3. After booting the device a third-party app is installed onto the device allowing the owner to set custom options.

Note that most manufacturers of Virtual Reality devices do not actively support a VR Kiosk mode for VR headsets. At the moment of writing both Pico and Lenovo officially allow this option, Oculus and HTC do not. And even the brands that support this use of their products often make it a cumbersome task to change the original software. It can’t be compared to the straightforward accessibility options that you will find in PC’s and tablet computers.

The keyword is Android

Most if not all standalone consumer VR headsets use the Android operating system as the backbone of their devices. They usually add an additional layer, like the Oculus Home interface as used on the Gear VR and the Oculus Go. Android does support restrictions on interaction, by tapping directly into this operating system it is possible to run the headset in Kiosk mode. Developers can enter ‘developer mode’ and access all available features of the system, for instance locking the device to one app, or limiting the use of the hardware buttons on the headset and the controller.

How to bypass the Kiosk mode?

You can now lock the system, but how can you exit this feature? That depends on the method used and the specific device. It could be a hard reboot or a special sequence of keypresses. This also depends on the developer that has bypassed the standard interface. It’s not the intention to render the VR glasses unusable for regular use, it’s just a temporary state that can be reversed. There are standard applications that allow anyone to install a hack, no technical expertise required. But that could backfire and void the warranty on the device. Not all manufacturers support this tampering, they can update the firmware to block these unauthorized hacks, and potentially ‘brick’ the headset in the process. It’s therefore recommended to contact a knowledgeable software developer to assist you.

Is it worth it?

If you use VR headsets in a professional environment, and in particular for presentations or a point-of-sale setup then yes, it will be definitely worth it. The setup process will vary from very easy to quite complicated, but once the Kiosk mode is activated you will quickly reap the benefits. In most cases the device can be reversed to the factory settings, so the risk of voiding the warranty is limited. Do contact a specialized company to make sure you don’t break any rules or damage your equipment. The additional features after ‘hacking’ may vary depending on the method used and the expertise of the user.