Virtual Reality Sickness

What is Virtual Reality Sickness?

In the present time, one aspect of virtual reality that has become a complex matter amongst developers and users is the fact that several experiments with VR motion controllers show an increase in VR motion sickness for users.

Playing with new gadgets can be fun especially with the VR trending technology, but the sad part is nausea and discomfort that comes with it. VR sickness may result in some undesirable illness which may pose a significant barrier to the practical use of the technology.

Virtual Reality sickness happens when the user is too exposed to a virtual environment, thereby causing symptoms such as stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness, headache and many more. Other effects are retching and postural instability.

VR sickness is sometimes called a visually induced motion sickness because of the similarity it shares with motion sickness and simulator sickness.


Technicalities in VR That Causes Sickness

VR sickness has often been studied from the biological point of view where symptoms have always been connected to the body functions. There have been many theories suggesting the causes of virtual sickness, but currently, there is the consensus yet to prove the right theory.

However, there are many technical aspects of the VR that can cause sicknesses such as motion parallax, viewing angle, the field of view, mismatch motion and even the amount of time spent in a virtual environment.


Mismatched Motion

The mismatched motion refers to a discrepancy between the expected motion and the simulation motion.

This factor has a higher tendency of inducing sickness when the mismatched motion frequencies and the frequencies for motion sickness are alike. These two frequencies can be manipulated experimentally, but they can also be caused by system errors.


Field Of View

In addition, studies have discovered that the field of view is connected both to the symptoms of simulator sickness.

That is, the large the field of view, the more the symptoms become. Studies have also discovered that when the field of view reduced from 126 degrees to 63 degrees, the symptoms were also reduced.


Old hardware

In the same vein, old hardware can cause lag in head-mounted display especially when the virtual world does not correspond with the head movement of the user.

This can cause flickering of the screen which can lead to eyestrain. Since the head-mounted display are directly positioned to fit the user’s head, they are close to the user’s eye, and a faulty calibration can affect the user’s eye.


Motion Parallax Distances

More so, when motion parallax distances are altered to be lesser than the distance between the user’s eyes, it can lead to accumulator distress such as blurred vision headache or eyestrain.

This is most common on a large screen. There are fewer reports of this incidence or smaller screen, but simulation setups which have motion parallax effects can also lead to eyes strain.


Viewing Angle

Another aspect is the viewing angle, which has been proven to increase a user’s sickness symptoms.

One of such incidents is when the user has to look down probably towards their feet while standing, unlike the forward viewing angle, this type of downward angle has been proven to cause sickness in VR.


Postural Instability

Studies have shown that women are more susceptible to motion sickness than men when using virtual reality.

An experiment was carried out by Professor Thomas Stoffregen of the University of Minnesota on 18 men and 18 women using the Oculus Rift in a game which involved strolling around a haunted house. The game triggered a sick feeling in 14 out of the `8 women and only in six men out of the 18.

As regarding the cause of this, the professor explained that it was due to the women’s posture as they have smaller body posture than men and different body shape which consists of smaller feet than men.

More furthers have proven that women are more susceptible than men because they can get easily nauseous than men and another study stated that it could be due to hormonal differences such as during ovulation,

Finally, some issues like illnesses and hangover have been shown to induce sickness in virtual reality but it is a surprise that alcohol has been proven to lessen the symptoms.