As Virtual Reality becomes more and more mainstream, increasing numbers of users are reporting that they experience symptoms of motion sickness while wearing their VR headsets. Professor John Golding, who specialises in motion sickness, spoke to Wareable about why people expeirence it while using VR headsets and how to combat it.
"As you move your head with a VR headset on," Professor Golding said, "the advanced sensors in the headset will know you're moving it and refresh the screen accordingly to make it move the right way—this ensures what you're seeing is as real as possible. For example, you move your head to the left and the screen shifts right. But, it can't do it as fast as it needs to in most cases. It needs to do it in 5 to 10 milliseconds and if there's any kind of lag, it can cause sensory conflict, even if it seems real enough to you consciously."
VR is mostly about entertainment so it's vital for companies find ways to combat motion sickness if they're going to appeal to a wide audience. Professor Golding said a lot of the issues can be addressed, mainly with less lag between load time. "Companies need to understand how important it is and value the computational speed" he said. "Some headsets are focused on more power for a better picture, but should be increasing the speed at which the screen refreshes instead."
Headsets that are placed further away from our faces or don't require our eyes to strain as much probably need to be explored too.
Not everyone will experience motion sickness, around 25 percent of people on a flight may experience symptoms and a third in coach journeys, but in some circumstances, most of the population will experience motion sickness. The two biggest predictors for motion sickness with VR are gender and age with women more likely to experience motion sickness and children experiencing it more acutely between six and nine, then peaking again at around 20.
With VR tipped to become a huge part of all aspects of our lives, more needs to be done to make this groundbreaking technology accessible and comfortable for everyone.