Many moons ago, Virtual Reality was predicted to explode, ushering in a new era of gaming and contention consumption. However, what virtually no one could have foreseen was the phenomenon of motion sickness caused by exposure to VR environments – commonly referred to as Cybersickness. Well now that we’re here, and we know that it happens, it’s probably good to take a close look at it.
Since then, as the virtual reality field has grown from strength to strength – with millions of different headsets sold since the beginning of the VR craze – there have been numerous reports of people feeling a little unwell. As weird as that may sound, scientists have taken the time to study this phenomenon and have begun to reach a consensus on the subject. Virtual Reality headsets do indeed cause a form of motion sickness in some individuals.
It is interesting to note that, it is generally believed that women are more susceptible to VR motion sickness – with earlier research implying a female to male risk probability of 5:3. However, some later examination of these studies suggests that the number of variables considered might have been too little to reach a solid conclusion.
This different take on Cybersickness noted a number of factors like, an individuals body mass index, Interpupillary distance IPD size, prior experience with VR, and field of view (FOV) issues that prior surveys might not have accounted for.
“while females are generally thought to have higher susceptibility to cybersickness than males, this relationship has not been well-characterized, especially for the latest generation of VR headsets.” Reads the research
That said, people who experienced cybersickness are avoiding VR headsets as a good way of stopping it. This shouldn’t be too difficult for most people as VR technology is still quite costly and tends to attract dedicated gamers and tech-addicts. However, as time passes and technologies become more affordable, one can expect to see further proliferation of VR tech. Furthermore, VR is poised to go into an enterprise driven push to mass adoption – playing a role in design, training, and operational support.
It is for these reasons that diving deeper into the questions around what?, why?, who?, how? of VR motion sickness are very important.
As for the question of who might be more susceptible to cybersickness, it was found that the fit of the IPD might play a very big role in the perceived gender bias of VR motion sickness. It was observed that IPDs that fit properly on women resulted in reports of cyber-sickness that were very similar to men’s in terms of symptoms and duration.
This points to a need for headsets with a wider range of IPD fit adjustments to help minimise motion sickness. Furthermore, it also does a great job of answering – though only in part – the question of, why?
As for the how. If you’ve tried VR and had a bout of cyber sickness, it could easily make you feel like VR is worth your time. However, if you take it in small calculated steps, you could train your body to get used to the unfamiliar sensations of VR immersion. If that approach doesn’t do it for you, then your only option will be to patiently wait for the aforementioned IPD fit remedies.