Virtual reality experiences are becoming more realistic and thanks to an open market, the prices of VR gear is coming down every day. Now anyone can have a nice VR experience by plugging a Google Cardboard into his Android smartphone.
As the VR tech enters the mainstream, its usage has also brought concerns about its effect on our health.
The first set of VR customers were typically gamers who learnt the importance of following the safety instructions. But as more regular people enter the VR world, the health problems related to the simulated world is a growing at an alarming rate.
The beauty of VR lies in its ability to fool our brain into believing the simulated world is real. It accomplishes this by first eliminating all external visual stimuli and with the help of low latency sensors, quickly responding to the user’s movement. But there is one sensor that cannot be fooled by VR. The inner ear contains a small vial like component responsible for sensing balance. It records even the slightest change in the body’s position.
While VR fools our eyes into believing the virtual is real, our brain is getting a conflicting signal from the inner ear.
For example, as you move in a game, your eyes tell your brain there is movement while you are standing still. Your inner ear tells your brain there is no movement. This conflict of signals confuses your brain, and it gives rise to motion sickness. Symptomatically, motion sickness is very close to seasickness. If you get seasick on a boat, you are likely to be affected by motion sickness when using VR.
Is there any way to avoid motion sickness while using VR?
There are several ways in which you can reduce the chances of motion sickness while using VR.
- Slow down the speed of your character. When you move quickly in the VR world, it triggers the balance issues.
- When turning in the VR environment, lock your eyes at a fixed point like you do in real life. This simple technique helps to avoid raising the movement alarms.
- When the camera is not controlled by your head movement, close your eyes. This helps reduce chances of your brain getting movement signals when you are standing still.
- Set up your VR headsets to match your eye requirements. Do not play in another person’s setup until you adjust it. If you don’t know how to do it, ask the person who owns it. Motion sickness does not go away even if you stop playing with VR. It may take hours for the symptoms to subside. So do not risk playing with a headset that is not calibrated to your eyes.
- Take a lot of breaks. Playing in VR is not like the typical 2D game. Never spend over 30 minutes at a stretch. When starting with VR, stick to five or ten minutes at a time.
These simple techniques can help you avoid motion sickness.