Researchers At The University Of Waterloo Can Now Predict Motion Sickness

New research shows that it is possible to predict and counteract motion sickness caused by virtual reality.

In the last month there has been a lot of discussion within the virtual reality (VR) industry around ways to combat the effects of motion sickness for users. Sony put through a patent recently that looks to see technology come to their headset to help reduce the impact of motion sickness. Fraunhofer also has a new headset in development that leverages new lens technology to help users overcome sickness and headaches. Now, researchers at the University of Waterloo have revealed that they have made progress towards predicting who is likely to feel sick from using VR technology.

University of Waterloo

In a recent study, the researchers at the University of Waterloo found that they could predict whether an individual will experience cybersickness (motion sickness caused by using VR) by measuring how long they sway in response to a moving visual feild. The researchers believe that this knowledge will help them to develop counteractions to cybersickness which could allow suffers to enjoy VR experiences even more.

The effects of cybersickness usually involve nausea and discomfort that can last for a few hours after experiencing a VR title. As the use of VR technology becomes more popular and used in more areas such as gaming, training and clinical rehabilitation, ensuring more people can comfortably use the technology is key to it’s growth.

“Despite decreased costs and significant benefits offered by VR, a large number of users are unable to use the technology for more than a brief period because it can make them feel sick,” Explains Séamas Weech, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Kinesiology and lead author of the paper. “Our results show that this is partly due to differences in how individuals use vision to control their balance. By refining our predictive model, we will be able to rapidly assess an individual’s tolerance for virtual reality and tailor their experience accordingly.”

Oculus Rift

The researchers collected several sensorimotor measures, such as balance control and self-motion sensitive, from 30 healthy participants aged 18-30 in order to carry out the test. The team exposed the participants to VR with the aim of predicting the severity of motion sickness within each one. Using a regression model, they significantly predicted how much cybersickness each participant experienced after being exposed to a zero-gravity simulation within VR.

“Knowing who might suffer from cybersickness, and why, allows us to develop targeted interventions to help reduce, or even prevent, the onset of symptoms,” said Michael Barnett-Cowan, neuroscience professor in the Department of Kinesiology and senior author of the paper. “Considering this technology is in a growth phase with industries such as gaming, design, medicine and automotive starting to use it, understanding who is negatively impacted and how to help them is crucial.”

As more work is carried out to understand the cause, effect and treatment of motion sickness within VR, VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest.

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