Friday, 23 August 2019 05:35

Cybersickness : The motion sickness of Virtual Reality!

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Virtual reality isn't the term from the distant future anymore.  In recent years VR technology has become so cheap that it is now an integral part of skills training, clinical rehabilitation, and the gaming industry. You might have tried it out yourself and loved the new dimension it gives to the video games and movie experiences. Or maybe you hated it because it made you feel sick! This sudden feeling of nausea and discomfort that you have experienced is called 

“Cybersickness”. 

Cybersickness, also known as Virtual Reality Sickness can be compared to Motion Sickness. Have you felt like vomiting when on a bus or felt dizzy when traveling in a car? These are symptoms of Motion Sickness. When our body goes out of balance due to motion, it sends out reflex signals in terms of involuntary sickness. 

What is cybersickness?

Cybersickness is nausea and discomfort caused by using virtual reality technology. VR games which involve a lot of movements and random falls makes you feel that you need to balance your body. When wearing VR headsets, your mind knows you are in VR but, your eyes perceive this as reality, and the same kind of motion sickness kicks in. 

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People immediately start feeling dizzy or sick once they put on VR helmets or goggles. They begin to sway from side to side or the sensation can become so bad that they have to quit the VR session to sit down and regroup. 

Reasons for Cybersickness or VR Sickness

People who have never felt motion sickness can get Cybersickness or VR Sickness quite easily. The logical reasoning being - VR headset uses three sensory systems - visual, vestibular and proprioceptive. Things would not have caused a problem if the system was perfect and the actions happening in the virtual world would be the same as the real world. But that doesn’t happen.

If our eyes perceive a moment of say even a few milliseconds which is out of sync, the response taken by the body is delayed, or rushed i.e. body doesn’t respond timely. Any VR headset which has a poor refresh rate for its lenses will cause problems.

Symptoms of Cybersickness

If you are not able to play VR games for long and need to take constant breaks, you are suffering from the sickness. These are the early symptoms of Cybersickness. Many a time you won’t be able to play the games which are simple and experience sickness while looking around in the game, especially in a non-flat terrain.

How to Prevent Cybersickness?

Apart from choosing the right hardware, both a VR headset, a super-fast PC, you need to take certain precautions that will help you fix this problem. However, do remember that if you are constantly  the wrong with the wrong hardware, the sickness will show up again.

  • Sit & Play: Many VR games don’t need you to stand. They just need a hand movement or minimal body movement.  Play those games while sitting in a comfortable chair or 
  • Change View distance: VR games shouldn't be played sitting very close to the view devices. You should keep the view at a distance. VR headsets do allow you to change this view distance of FOV and find a distance which is comfortable for you. Move around a bit, and see if your body response is positive, if not further adjust till you find 
  • Take regular breaks: VR is addictive, just like any gaming, and you need to take regular breaks just like in gaming. Prolonged use of any device draws too much energy from body and mind. You need to come back to the real world to find your balance. A small break, the game pauses, a longer break after an intense session of the game 
  • Ask the experts: This applies to almost everything in life, be it virtual or real.  VR sickness can be fixed by adding an overlay in the view. Those who use opaque/semi-transparent borders experience reduced chances of nausea and 

Illness associated with VR presents a serious obstacle towards widespread acceptance of the technology. This could become significant as VR moves beyond gaming and entertainment into areas such as job training, distraction therapy for pain, and other applications. Preventing cybersickness is not just something we want; it is something we need! 

The voice behind this article is Ashwini Gaikwad,Content Writer, Investronaut.




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