Five Ways to Avoid VR Motion Sickness
The technology responsible for virtual reality has come a long way in recent years, and 2016 promises to deliver more and better VR experiences as well as to mainstream virtual reality devices, as competing tech companies strive to put their own stamp on the “next big thing”. While the wonders of virtual reality can open our minds to incredible sensory experiences, the down side is that those same senses can become confused and disoriented, resulting in what is commonly known as VR motion sickness.
Virtual reality sickness is similar in many ways to motion sickness or simulator sickness, and affects approximately 20% of VR participants. It is a very real illness, and one that increases in frequency of instances as virtual reality devices become more and more popular and widely used. Symptoms include dizziness, a sense of being disoriented and, quite commonly, nausea, even to the point of inducing vomiting. VR motion sickness is caused when there is a disconnect between what the mind is experiencing in virtual reality and what the body is experiencing physically in the real world. When the mind perceives that the body is moving, yet the physical senses confirm otherwise, VR motion sickness can be the result of that discrepancy.
Generally speaking, most people will acclimate to VR over a period of time. We suggest VR newbs start with short VR sessions in games/experiences that do not simulate walking or running. Flying and driving games will offer some of the more comfortable experiences as they give the brain a static reference point. If you do experience motion sickness, stop using VR immediately for a short period of time and resume using shorter VR sessions. As you build a tolerance, you can spend longer periods of time in the wonderful world of VR.
Fortunately, just as there are known methods of managing traditional motion sickness, virtual reality enthusiasts struggling with this issue have discovered several ways to avoid VR motion sickness. Here we’ve collected five tips and strategies to avoid VR motion sickness so you can fully enjoy the virtual reality experience.
1. Anti-nausea remedies
For some, the standard remedies for the traditional motion sickness can do the trick. Ginger root is a centuries old homeopathic remedy for nausea. Many have used magnetic bracelets to successfully alleviate motion sickness symptoms. For the less new age among us. over-the-counter anti-nausea medicines are a good and convenient option, as well.
This is a good place to start trying to avoid VR motion sickness, and if one of these remedies works for you, then your problem is solved. But if the answer doesn’t turn out to be that simple, there are some other things to try.
2. Controlled environment
Even though the virtual reality experience is largely dictated by the software in which you’re engaging, there are a few things you can do to control the VR environment and your physical involvement therein.
- Fixate your vision. Some have alleviated VR sickness symptoms by fixing their vision on a constant point in the virtual space while physically moving or changing direction. This is similar to the way a dancer fixates on one spot while spinning to avoid dizziness. Your brain may more readily process the virtual movement this way.
- Minimize head movement. Remember, it is the disconnect between the brain’s perception of movement and the body’s physical sense of that movement which causes VR sickness. While reducing movement might seem like a backward strategy in that regard, many have experienced success in avoiding VR motion sickness with this method, presumably because the lack of movement allows the brain to process the VR environment as more of a visual experience – like watching television; really, really high definition, 3D television. This may reduce the immersion experience in the virtual environment, but if it alleviates your symptoms, it’s a good option to try until you find a more effective method of avoiding VR motion sickness altogether.
- Slow it down. If the game you’re playing has speed options, try taking it a little slower and see if that helps you to avoid VR motion sickness – or at least to lessen the severity of the symptoms. Once you get more comfortable with the virtual reality experience, then you can try speeding things up again.
3. Take a break
We all know how time flies in the course of a video game. It’s even easier to get completely sucked into the virtual reality experience. So if you’re struggling with motion sickness, make a point to take regular breaks. This allows your mind-body connection to rebalance itself, and then you can re-enter the VR world with fresh sensory perceptions.
4. Change your experience
It’s quite possible that the particular virtual reality experience before you is the cause of your sickness. For example, many an unsuspecting VR first-timer has experienced motion sickness while immersed in the classic virtual roller-coaster (this is not the best place to start, by the way). But that doesn’t mean a less “extreme” VR experience would inflict the same result. If nothing else has worked thus far, try changing it up. A different game or style might work better for you.
Additionally, different developers utilize different designs and different technological elements in their games, and one of these elements could be the very thing that helps you to avoid VR motion sickness (or the very thing that’s causing it). One example of this is the drastically reduced instance of sickness in users immersed in a virtual reality experience with an “anchor”. This is a fixed element, such as the frame of the cockpit in your virtual plane. An anchor provides a steady point of reference and has been demonstrated to aid in bridging the gap between brain-body perceptions in the virtual world.
5. Upgrade your device
With VR technology constantly improving and evolving, so are virtual reality devices, themselves. Try a higher level graphic quality to avoid VR motion sickness. The industry-wide switch from LCD technology to OLED (organic light-emitting diode) cured VR sickness for a lot of people, and appears to be the way of the virtual future.
Virtual reality is quickly becoming a part of our everyday culture, and as the science behind VR continues to evolve, new and better products continue to be introduced. This fact alone is bound to help people to avoid VR motion sickness as this technology improves, but there will still be some of us that continue to struggle with unpleasant symptoms associated with the virtual reality experience. Fortunately, many of us have had success with these strategies, either alone or in combination with one another, and with a bit of luck and some trial and error, you’re bound to find your solution, too.
Keep in touch with VR Pilot at vrpilot.com to maximize your VR Total Immersion.