How Science Is Solving the Virtual Reality Sickness Problem

September 29, 2016

12:45 pm

Virtual reality is on the cusp of going mainstream. Production companies are calling for virtual reality to be baked into the budget of major motion pictures. Video game businesses are dedicating entire departments to creating games that are immersive and exciting. Sports teams, travel agencies, and even dating sites have adopted this technology to improve the experience of their customers. But one problem stands in the way of bringing the innovative tech to the real world: virtual reality sickness.

It’s no secret that new technologies can be a little jarring to the system. Even 3D movies have a tendency to illicit a bit of nausea in certain situations. But as a technology that is poised to take over the entertainment industry, the problem is a lot more pressing for viable companies looking to capitalize. After all, no one is going to shell out $500+ to throw up in their living room. And video game developers are acutely aware of the problem.

“VR sickness and general VR discomfort are currently among the biggest hurdles to overcome before VR is comfortably adopted by the mass market,” said researcher Ajoy Fernandes to Popular Science. “Many current techniques try to tackle VR sickness, but, in doing so, are easily detected, and often compromise the user’s experience. Our research shows that we can both reduce VR sickness and not detract from the user’s experience.”

Fortunately, everyone is working on a way to solve this problem as soon as possible. Some restricted-view models have made it easier for people to endure the queasy feelings, but were immediately noticeable in the user experience. However, one study has shown that, while the initial shock of virtual reality may be too much to bear for some, extended use can go a long way in making it easier. So, essentially, people just have to get used to it before they dive into the more complicated models.

“This suggests that participants who start with [field-of-view-restrictions] generally have a better experience in their combined VR sessions, and further suggests that FOV restrictors might help VR users have a more comfortable launch,“warming up” to their initial VR experiences,” wrote the authors of the study.

At this point in virtual reality development, “getting used to it” is probably the best we’re going to get when it comes to solving the virtual reality sickness problem. And while it’s not the hi-tech solution you might have been hoping for, at least you won’t blowing chunks the next time you want to explore an immersive virtual reality experience.

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Senior Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Senior Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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