Among the many obstacles between virtual reality and mainstream markets is the common onset of virtual reality-induced nausea. However, researchers at Columbia University have found a simple way to alter field of view perception so that wearers can enjoy virtual reality without getting sick.
The researchers discovered that when a user’s field of view is restricted while moving in their virtual environments, they were less likely to get nauseous and more likely to play games for longer. The users most prone to VR sickness tend to feel discomfort as a result of the sensory mismatch between what the users perceive with their eyes and the reality that the rest of their senses pick up.
The new technique of restricting a user’s field of view was trialled by 30 volunteers during two separate sessions. Specialists have called the research “simple and efficient,” noting that the trials involved pnly subtly narrowing the field of view presented by a VR headset. The narrowing increases when a user is moving through his or her virtual experience, but then their view expands again once they’ve come to a stop.
VR nausea is not limited to those who are inexperienced with the new gaming and communications platform; even Steven Feiner, professor of computer science at Columbia University, has suffered from VR sickness.
“It is critical that the experience be both comfortable and compelling, and we think we’ve found a way,” explained Professor Feiner. He continued on to assert that virtual reality has the potential to “profoundly change” how people interact with everything from machinery to information to other human beings.
Nausea symptoms can occur when the brain receives visual clues that clash with other sensory information received from the ears’ vestibular system. The vestibular system aids human beings in balance and is made up by several small canals in which tiny amounts of fluid act like spirit levels that respond to the motion of a body.
Professor Feiner and co-author Ajoy Fernandes went so far as to create a video that demonstrated how the technique works. The video shows that the field of view changes are relatively nonexistent when a user isn’t moving and become restricted in a way that is basically unnoticeable when a user is moving.
According to Professor Anthony Steed at UCL, this technique for combating VR motion sickness has been tried by other entities too, including Ubisoft in their VR title Eagle Flight.
“The technique is generally useful across a range of applications, so it should have broad impact,” the professor stated.
According to Sebastien Kuntz, founder of French VR firm MiddleVR, this method of combating the problem is much more straightforward than others that have been tried in the past.
“Actually, I’m super sensitive [to virtual reality sickness] myself, so every time we develop something here I test it,” he disclosed to a major new outlet. “The idea seems simple and efficient- I definitely want to try it.”
The work by the Columbia researchers has been welcomed by a variety of businesses and top tech developers bent on expanding virtual reality; now the virtual world is that much more accessible to interested explorers.