Do you see young people having their VR headsets on all the time? So, you naturally want to see what all the fuss is about, and then you suddenly feel nauseous and remove the headset instantly! Well you’re not alone, you have Virtual Reality Sickness, hey it even has its own Wikipedia page! Don’t worry though, read on and you’ll come across a few solutions you might try in order to overcome this new phenomenon!
Alright! Let’s go back to the main question, WHY VIRTUAL REALITY SICKNESS HAPPENS AT ALL!?
According to a research conducted on ‘Simulation Sickness’ by the US Army Research Institute there are two major theories on why simulation sickness occurs: Sensory Conflict Theory & Postural Instability Theory
The Sensory Conflict Theory mainly states that it is similar to a generally more well-known motion sickness, something a lot of people have experienced before they’ve reached the age of 12. Well this happens because our eyes are saying that one thing is happening, but all our other senses, like the inner ear, are telling as another. The mechanism is the same, but Virtual Reality Sickens and Motion Sickness are the opposite actually! When you experience motion sickness, your eyes are saying that you are stationary (sitting in a car, looking at the dashboard or a book) but your other senses are experiencing G-forces. And exactly the opposite happens when you put a VR headset on! Your eyes are trying to convince you that you are moving (like riding a horse here in an VR Archery game), but all your other senses are telling you that you are stationary!
The Postural Instability Theory on the other hand states that the sickness producing situations are characterized by their unfamiliarity to the participant. This unfamiliarity sometimes leads to an inability of the participant to maintain postural control. It is this postural instability that causes the discomfort-until the user adapts.
So now you are aware WHY Virtual Reality Sickens occurs and HOW it makes you feel nauseous! In order to get over that and be able to experience Virtual Reality in all its glory, we have prepared 5 tips you can try in order to overcome nausea in VR.
1. Lens Adjustment on your VR Headset
This is something that a lot of people can relate to when putting on a VR Headset for the first time. If you’re shortsighted like me you must have found it difficult to follow VR content at first, it was a blurry and dizzy nausea fest! When Samsung Gear VR became available, a lot of people criticized it for not being able to see the content clearly and it not being in focus. Turns out Samsung’s VR Headset was new to the market, and users haven’t figured out that they can simply adjust the lens of their VR HMD to fit the quality of their sight.
Some future VR HMD’s might solve this by allowing users to simply input their designated lens adjustment like n their glasses for reading before putting the headset on, or maybe even doing that automatically!
You might try and explore your VR device, HTC Vive for example has the lens adjustment dial on the bottom, so it’s not exactly intuitive for a person using it for the first time.
2. Take a Break from Virtual Reality Every 20 Minutes
Not that long ago you would be watching cartoons on TV, and your parents would shout at you for sitting too close to the TV set, and ironically today, you just pick up a VR headset and you have two small high resolution screens just inches from your eyes!
But just as our parents were right about it not being all that healthy sitting in front of the TV for hours, it’s still not healthy to have a VR headset on for too long as well! If you’re immersed into a VR world for too long, you can easily become dizzy and lose your balance! So that’s exactly why it is good for your to take a break from time to time, that world’s not going anywhere.
A general rule of thumb to follow when the VR headset’s screens are inches from your eyes is that you should take a 5 minute break for roughly every 20 to 30 minutes of being in VR. Something @JakWilmot certainly didn’t pay attention to when he spent a WHOLE WEEK in Virtual Reality! (*Please DON’T try this at home!)
3. Add a Virtual Nose
Yeah, we know how weird this sounds but just bear with us on this. Researchers from Purdue University think that they have found a solution to reduce the nauseating and dizziness inducing effects of virtual reality by doing something that was right under our noses (pun intended) the entire time! That’s right, they’ve done the research, in fact they had half the participants use VR with and the other half without the virtually added nose. The research found that those with the VR nose were in fact able to be in VR for 94 seconds more than those without.
This is not a complete solution, but it’s a great start. Because when you think about it, that’s how our brain operates in real life, we have our noses right in front of us the whole time, and they are constantly in our line of sight, it’s just that our brain is hard wired to ignore it. Maybe that will be the case in the future of designing VR experiences!
4. Move Less when You are Playing
One of the best ways to avoid virtual reality sickness is to try and be as stationary as possible while being in VR. Newly designed VR worlds focus on letting the player teleport rather then walk, because that has proven to be one of the triggers of virtual reality sickness.
If you move your body extensively in VR it leads to you becoming nauseous. If however your keep stationary or limit your moves to a minimum, like what HTC Vive offers, it is far easier for your brain to adapt to the VR environment and avoid the negative effects.
5. Upgrade your PC if Necessary
Now this is something you can really overlook, but it greatly affects the way VR is displayed on the headsets if the headset is a PC based VR device, like HTC Vive, HTC Cosmos or Oculus Rift S. All of these require a high end PC to run, but they will also work on a lower then recommended requirements, although it would not look as good. That’s the thing, it’s not just about how it looks, its bout how it makes you feel. VR should be run on a headset that has a 90 Hz refresh rate, and it should run on 60 to 90 FPS, to give you that lifelike feel. If it’s lower than that, it will become jittery and can impact your experience, making you nauseous and dizzy.
As mentioned, a high quality VR experience requires a high quality, state of the art PC. HTC, has a dedicated page recommending PC specs for optimally running their headsets Vive, Vive Pro & Cosmos. They recommend an Intel Core i5 or AMD FX 8350; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 or AMD Radeon Vega 56; 8 or more GB of RAM.
So just to conclude, these 5 steps will surely help you with NOT feeling nauseous after using VR.
VR is a great addition to our lives, and it would be a shame that there are people who cannot enjoy it because they experience virtual reality sickness, but you shouldn’t worry, as you’ve just read here, there are ways to try and prevent it, and surely if you choose to go on a journey, and make your own VR experience with us, we will try our best to make that journey smooth. So don’t hesitate to CONTACT US, even if you only have a question regarding an issue with VR.