Published: 27th March 2019

HOW TO REDUCE, AND EVEN STOP, MOTION SICKNESS IN VR


As exciting as it is, a virtual reality (VR) platform is not without drawbacks. The chief one of these is motion sickness, an oft-reported side effect from users that is akin to seasickness. According to Fortune1, 25 to 40 per cent of users having VR experiences claim that they suffer from it.

WHAT IS MOTION SICKNESS IN VR?

For newbies in a virtual world, the symptoms of motion sickness come between the first ten and thirty minutes of play. There’s dizziness and discombobulation, nausea and the cold sweats. And this, for many, becomes their lasting memory of putting on a VR headset, turning them off from the concept.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

There’s a lot of science and research about what causes motion sickness in a VR world. But a boiled-down, pared version of the cause is that it’s the disconnect between what you see and hear within a VR headset such as an Oculus Rift, and the actual state of your body within the ‘real world’.

Or, as the authors of How to Deal with Motion Sickness in Virtual Reality write2, “[…] it occurs when there are asynchronous events between our inertial and visual system. In this case, our visual system perceives the movement but our body does not.”

In a racing game, for example, your eyes and ears may experience of being in a car going at high speed. But the rest of your senses—touch, taste, smell—are still attuned to the world outside the VR goggles. And because your brain cannot reconcile this, you begin to internally lurch and list, leading to nausea.

There are other things that exacerbate motion sickness:

  • Changing the head orientation without user input.
  • Modifying the field of by zooming in and out.
  • Variations in acceleration or speeding up and down.

SO WHAT CAN BE DONE TO COMBAT MOTION SICKNESS IN VR?

Combating motion sickness in VR can be split into two categories,with some overlap. The first would be hardware and software based, while the second is a collection of simple measures that users can implement.

In regards to hardware, motion sickness can be alleviated by using simulators or taking advantage of location-based VR. The former may mean, for a racing game, only playing games while sat in an appliance shaped like a car seat. The second solution involves building a ‘set’ that replicates what is seen in the simulation. This could mean a number of blocks that take the place of tables and chairs.

The downside with these solutions is that they require investment and accompanying apparatus that may be beyond the home VR consumer. With location-based VR, space and limited functionality are issues, being that it can only be used for one restricted purpose.

In terms of software, the use of teleporting as a process for moving around a VR environment combats the body’s instinctive belief that we should be moving when the software presents us with that imaging. Teleporting is when you use the handset or the controls to point to another location and ‘teleport’ there, removing the in-between part of actually moving around the space. It’s the method we at Staramba use in MATERIA.ONE.

Perhaps the most bizarre suggestion—and which also makes sense—is the addition is a fake nose to the field of view. As Wired reported3, “[…] placing a schnoz in the lower center of a headset's screen has been shown to reduce the effects of simulator sickness by 13.5 per cent.” That research originates from Purdue University’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology in Indiana.

SOME PRACTICAL STEPS TO PREVENT MOTION SICKNESS

For beginning users, it is advisable to stay away from games with lots of sudden movement. Experiences such as rollercoasters tend to be problematic as the rapid shifts tend to quickly exacerbate motion sickness. Instead, they should stick to experiences that require little movement such as participating in social VR.

But the most important thing to remember is that it takes time to get used to VR. Users should start with a limited, small amount of time within a VR social space, say ten minutes or so at first, before upping it gradually and taking part in more-complicated virtual reality experiences at a rate that they feel comfortable with.

As Chris Reed wrote for UploadVR4, “If a game makes you feel queasy, start out by limiting your play sessions to just a few minutes at a time. When you start feeling uncomfortable, shut your eyes, breathe deeply, and take a short break before trying again. If you gradually increase the time you spend in those games, there’s a good chance you’ll overcome the discomfort in just a few days’ time.”

Reed laid out a number of further measures to treat motion sickness. These were:

  • Have someone reassure you: According to one study, motion sickness may be overcome by having someone tell you that you’re going to be okay.* Eating ginger a couple of hours before putting on the VR headset:
  • Having a blowing fan pointed in your direction while playing.
  • Take Dramamine, an anti-nausea drug.
  • Wear a Sea-Band-like wristband: Although these are designed for people travelling, it has been reported—according to UploadVR—that many users report that they work in VR spaces.
  • And the last one… Well, we’ll just leave a link here.

That’s as much as we’ve been able to put together about stopping motion sickness in VR. We doubt it’s comprehensive so why not, if you have any ideas, leave us a message in the forum!

Soures:
1 ‘A Possible Cure for Virtual Reality Motion Sickness’, Fortune.com
2 ‘How to Deal with Motion Sickness in Virtual Reality’, University of Coimbra
3 ‘How to Reduce VR Sickness? Just Add a Virtual Nose’, Wired.com
4 ‘7 Things You Can Do to Overcome VR Motion Sickness’, UploadVR