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September 29, 2017

How to Eliminate Virtual Reality Motion Sickness

Mark Metry Founder VU Dream
Mark Metry, Founder of VU Dream

You ask the questions, we ask the community for answers.

1. Harsh Sijariya, Founder of NextGG

Motion sickness is a mismatch between what your body and your brain is experiencing, says Dr. Sujana Chandrasekhar, director of New York Otology and ENT surgeon at the New York Head and Neck Institute.

It’s experienced when the central nervous system receives conflicting information from the inner ear, eyes, and both the pressure and sensory receptors, found in our joints, muscles, and spine. Our sense of balance is controlled by the interaction of these systems.

After reading the above description you can do following things to eliminate motion sickness:

  1. Time Management: Avoid using VR for an extended period of time. One session of VR should not last for more than 20 minutes. You can take breaks between short sessions.
  2. Posture Change: If you are having motion sickness in a standing posture then try sitting down and then use your VR.
  3. Choose your VR content wisely: Some VR videos/games like Roller coaster, Free fall, Car racing, Spacewalk etc. can cause motion sickness in some people. So you can avoid using such content or use them for shorter period of time.
  4. Medication: You can also take some medications prescribed by your doctor for motion sickness. But instead of taking medicines you can avoid VR content which causes motion sickness as that would be a wiser decision.
VR Motion Sickness

2. Rob Kendal, Founder of Yulio VR

VR has a – rightly deserved – reputation for causing some users to experience nausea. It is even the namesake of a new form of “motion” sickness – VR sickness.

So what is actually happening?

Virtual reality-induced nausea didn’t enter the fray with the first Oculus Rift. It’s been around since the first astronauts, airline pilots and test drivers began honing their skills in virtual environments. In fact it used to be called ‘simulator sickness’. It’s caused by a sensory mismatch between the vestibular (the balancing system in your inner ear), the visual (what you are seeing) and/or the kinaesthetic (your physical movement).

During a VR experience, a user’s eyes might be transmitting signals to the brain that it’s test driving a new Audi on the Nurburgring. But signals from the inner ear are recording no matching movement and this sensory conflict can trigger illness.

According to some experts, this impulse to be sick is brought on by a self-preservation reflex. Mismatched sensory signals make the brain think a poison has been ingested by the body and it acts to get it out. But that’s just a theory.

VR-related nausea won’t affect everyone. Based on those who experience motion sickness on boats, planes or in cars, estimates say it will affect around 25% of people. Women are also said to suffer more than men with motion sickness in general. Factors for this include postural sway, whereby women’s smaller bodies may mean they sway more when standing or sitting still, and women typically have a heightened sense of detection when it comes to sensory conflicts.

How to combat VR Sickness

Anecdotally, regular VR users say they acclimatize quickly and symptoms subside naturally. That’s certainly true in our office, where the team members who have been working with VR for years are surprised when newbies mention vr sickness concerns. But that won’t help your client in their first VR experience.

Technology can be part of the solution. To reduce the subtle latencies between what is being seen and what movement is being physically experienced, headsets from companies such as Oculus, HTC and PlayStation VR all now work with refresh rates of 90 frames per second. This ensures minimal lag and cuts down on numbers experiencing negative symptoms.

Mobile headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR or Google Cardboard use smartphones to project the images, so the graphics aren’t as sophisticated as tethered experiences. However, since mobile VR tracks only head movement, and not full body motion, the effects of VR motion sickness are typically less. The incongruity between what’s been seen and experienced physically is smaller, which reduces the risk.

Getting around the vr motion sickness problem played a part in our decision to concentrate first on mobile as a method of delivering VR for business applications. The flexibility of mobile lends means it can be used in any setting, including places your viewers feel comfortable. And at Yulio we remove the straps from all of our headsets to enable ‘popping in and out’ of experiences.

When business users can raise the headset to view a window on your designs, but know they can immediately remove it if needed, it helps resolve concerns about feeling ill, and trapped.

With many different subtle factors leading to people experiencing vr motion sickness, there’s no one miracle cure. A quickly growing base of both entertainment and enterprise users, have meant, however, that technologies used to create, record and view virtual reality content are all being steadily improved with the issue squarely in mind.

vestibular system

3. Jeff Rayner, Founder & CEO of MyPad3D

I will give the practical solutions learned from experience:

  • LATENCY: if you move your head and there is some time lag from what your eyes see, it confuses your brain. Most phone based VR headsets will suffer from this, particularly if they are graphics intensive.
  • SOLUTION A: if using a phone, ensure its a newer version (e.g. iPhone 5s has half the graphics capabilities of an iPhone 6s)
  • SOLUTION B : Play games that have optimized graphics. How do you tell? Unfortunately, it’s down to reading the product info, reviews or better still, trying it out.
  • SOLUTION C: Higher end VR specific headsets like the HTC VIVE have much less of a latency problem.
  • MOVEMENT: There are many types of movement in Virtual Worlds, examples include; turning your phone, physically moving, using a hand controller, or being taken on a fly-through. Each movement type has it’s pros and cons, but on every device kind, the last on this list (being taken for a ride) has a much higher likelihood of nausea. The reason is similar to latency, in that your body doesn’t feel movement, yet your eyes and brain do.
  • SOLUTION A: Sit down to mediate issues and decrease the possibility of falling over (yes, in a good VR experience you can still fall over while seated!)
  • SOLUTION B: Don’t play games/experiences that involve fake movement. These include roller coasters, fly-throughs, 360 videos, etc.
  • NEWBIE FACTOR: Immersing yourself into a VR world for the first time is a very odd feeling, which raises all kinds of emotions, thoughts and wonders. Some people deal with these easily, while others get a little panicked and move around very quickly in an attempt to reason with their brain as they internally argue about what is real and what is not. From an outsiders perspective, it’s interesting to watch, yet from experience, I’ve seen first timers get very disorientated – to the point of being uncomfortable and feeling nausea.
  • SOLUTION A: Prior to putting on a headset, inform the user to take it easily, move slowly and look for things to focus on. Enjoy the journey, and relax.
  • SOLUTION B: Ensure that any newbie has a warm fuzzy first experience by only immersing them in something that is easy for their brain to understand, i.e. very little movement, and inviting environment with no automated motion.

Using a suitable VR solution, combined with the appropriate circumstances and informative tuition, it is possible to reduce the feeling of motion sickness to a minimum – but ultimately, you can’t control someone else’s brain any more than they can!

Conclusion

Check back on this page frequently for updates and additions.

We’ve seen a tremendous amount of disruptive change coming from the Virtual Reality Industry. It is surely certain that this kind of content will accelerate based on trends in the future.

You most likely have some other VR ideas that can change the world! Share them with us on social media!

Thank you for Reading

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