Even as the popularity of virtual reality (VR) technology gains around the world, scientists from the University of Waterloo have identified that not all users may be getting as much from the experience. In some cases, users may even suffer from a bout of cybersickness, which the team of researchers behind this study hopes to find ways to counteract. Cybersickness is a condition where a person who has viewed or participate in a VR experience may experience nausea and severe discomfort for hours after the experience.
Lead author of the study by the University of Waterloo, Seamas Weech, said, “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.” Weech explained that VR though popular may see users have varying levels of tolerance, when he said, “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.”
The study was conducted on a group of users in the 18-30 age range using sensorimotor measures to gauge self-motion sensitivity and balance control, among others. A zero-gravity space simulator VR experience was used for the study. According to Professor at the university and a senior author of the study, Michael Barnett-Cowan, “Knowing who might suffer from cybersickness, and why, allows us to develop targeted interventions to help reduce, or even prevent, the onset of symptoms. 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.”