In the 1990s, companies such as SEGA and Nintendo tried to bring virtual reality (VR) to the public through headphones, but they failed in the end. Poor visual effects and imprecise handling only lead to a dull experience. Nintendo’s game machines were discontinued just a year later, and Sega’s VR system was not even on the market.
nearly 30 years later, VR has made a comeback. Today, VR has a wide range of applications, covering pain treatment, surgical training, occupational safety and real estate. However, although the software and hardware of VR technology have made great progress in the past decades, there is one problem that has not disappeared, that is motion sickness.
I’ve heard of carsickness and seasickness, but what is motion sickness? In fact, carsickness and seasickness belong to motion sickness. Motion sickness essentially refers to the disease caused by the stimulation of vestibular nerve in the process of various forms of movement of automobile, ship or airplane. At the onset of the disease, the patient will have upper abdominal discomfort, nausea, pale face, cold sweat, vertigo and other symptoms. What’s more, researchers usually refer to VR induced motion sickness as vertigo.
Thomas stoffregen, a sports scientist at the University of Minnesota, said: “with the VR system currently on sale, the incidence of motion sickness after 15 minutes is between 40% and 70%. Some applications can even say that 100% of them will make users sick. ”
on July 28, stoffregen and other “screen sickness” researchers held a meeting in Los Angeles during the top conference in the field of computer vision 2019. At the meeting, they discussed what can be done to help prevent the motion sickness related to VR, and discussed the relevant theories, such as why motion sickness occurs, why it only occurs in some people, and why women are particularly susceptible to it.
stoffregen said: “the existing interactive technology may be a little sexist in effect. In other words, they are more likely to make women sick than men. Of course, it’s not just about technology. Because whenever and wherever, women are more likely to get carsick than men
stoffregen believes that since VR related motion sickness is caused by human designed hardware and software, and has nothing to do with environmental factors, we need to be responsible for finding a way to solve the effect of this “sexism”.
the dominant theory of screen halo is that it is caused by perception conflict. Essentially, the information your eyes receive in VR doesn’t match your body’s sense of balance and spatial orientation. For example, a rollercoaster like VR experience may induce motion sickness.
some researchers believe that evolution has caused people’s bodies to respond to nausea and vomiting by trying to expel a hallucinogenic toxin. “This theory also brings us a lot of questions, such as the extent to which we can predict vertigo, and can it help us?” said seamas weech, a researcher at the University of Waterloo in Canada
opponents of the perception conflict theory point out that this theory can not explain individual differences in susceptibility to screen sickness. If everyone experiences this vestibular perception, why not everyone want to vomit? Why do women have more dizziness than men in VR research?
researchers believe that one of the reasons may be the way VR headphones are worn. Current VR devices can adjust pupil spacing to ensure that the user’s eyes are in the center of the two lenses. But that doesn’t mean these devices are for everyone.
bas rockers, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin Madison, said: “the default value of headphones is slightly higher than people’s average pupil distance, which is very consistent with the average pupil distance of men, but it is not suitable for women.”
studies have found that when the pupil spacing of the helmet is too large, the user will feel more uncomfortable. In his study, rockers found that about 90% of women’s pupils are closer to the default setting of the headset, and 27% of women’s pupil spacing does not match the headset at all. In contrast, only 5% of men don’t match the headphones because the pupil spacing is too narrow.
stoffregen published a theory in 1991 to describe individual differences in motion sickness, which referred to “postural instability.”. He found some evidence that some people’s postures at the beginning of a VR experience or a boat trip are “wobbling” for some reason, which can predict who will feel sick later. Stoffregen believes that this is a more comprehensive explanation of motion sickness than the theory of perceived conflict.
he claims: “if you board a boat or install a head mounted display, it changes the way your body moves and how you control it. Some people are naturally good at coordination, and they will adjust quickly, but some of us adapt more slowly
However, other researchers at the seminar did not agree with stoffregen’s theory. For example, stoffregen’s data suggest that there is no correlation between postural instability and motion sickness. It also means that the debate about the origin of motion sickness seems to continue.
although there was no consensus, everyone agreed that VR related diseases had seriously hindered the widespread use of the technology. With the shift from VR, and other areas of pain therapy to work and entertainment, it’s possible to shift from this area of work to that of entertainment.
although the motion sickness caused by VR equipment is still unavoidable, with the progress and improvement of technology, we will overcome this obstacle one day, and VR technology will usher in a new spring.