Motion sickness in VR and what we do to minimize the effects

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Motion sickness in VR can cause general discomfort for certain users. It depends on the person, but users can experience disorientation, vertigo, drowsiness, sweating and in extreme cases vomiting.

There are several theories as to why motion sickness occurs: sensory conflict, eye movement and evolutionary instability. This article will give you a good understanding of why our bodies can react adversely to VR, what’s causing motion sickness, and what we can do to minimize these effects.

Sensory Conflict

According to the Sensory Conflict Theory, motion sickness can occur as a result of a sensory mismatch between expected and actual motion.

In VR, expected motion is simulated by visual and auditory cues, whereas our actual motions are still detected by our vestibular system. This is our sensory system that is responsible for providing our brain with information about motion, head position and spatial orientation.

So, when our visual system would sense motion and our vestibular system would not, then this can cause a mismatch that may result in motion sickness.

Eye Movement

Motion sickness can also occur when unnatural eye motion is required to keep the scene’s image stable. A conflict can happen when the image moves differently than expected. Our eyes must then move and react in unusual ways to compensate for the unstable image. This can cause motion sickness.

Evolutionary Instability

Evolutionary, it has been critical for our survival to properly perceive the motion of our body and of the world around us. If we get conflicting information from our senses, it means something is not right. Our bodies have evolved to instinctively protect us from these irregularities.

Such protection mechanisms are the reason why we lay down until we recover, or why we sweat, vomit or have nausea when we have toxins in our body. This is in order to discourage us from ingesting similar toxins in the future.

Motion sickness may occur because the brain interprets sensory mismatch as a sign of intoxication, and triggers nausea/vomiting as a self-defence mechanism.

VR Sickness prevent the cause

How to minimize the effects?

With these theories in mind, at Rhinox, we pay a lot of attention on what we can do to minimize the effects of motion sickness. This includes:

We hope you've been enjoying our articles. We want to give our readers new insights and aim to inspire you with ideas on how to best use VR technology to your advantage. If you don’t want to miss a single one, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

We will also dig deeper into certain topics in our webinars. If you've missed the first one where we talked about the origins & future of VR, you can check it here (video is in Dutch). Keep an eye on our newsletter and socials if you want to join the vote for the next webinar!

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