Simulator sickness or sim sickness is a common phenomenon in virtual reality games. While playing these games, people sometimes face nausea and vertigo. These side effects are stopping virtual reality to become a mainstream technology. However, new findings have come up which could ease this problem. Simulator sickness is caused by many physiological systems like a person’s overall sense of position and touch, muscles controlling eye-movements and liquid-filled tubes in the ear.
Studies have suggested that sim sickness is not as severe when fixed visual reference objects are included in the games, like an airplane’s cockpit or a car’s dashboard, which are situated within the point of view of the users. Keeping this finding in mind, the idea of inserting a virtual nose in the VR games, struck.
Using a Virtual Nose
An assistant professor of the Department of Computer Graphics Technology, in Purdue University, David Whittinghill and his team were studying this problem. Bradley Ziegler, an undergraduate student suggested this idea of including a virtual human nose in the center of the video screen. The researchers found out that this helped in reducing motion sickness in VR games. Others who were in the research included undergraduate students Tristan Case and James Moore.
The findings were shown at the Game Developers Conference which was held earlier this month in San Francisco.
A number of virtual reality applications having different motion intensity were operated by forty-one participants. One of the applications required the user to move through the interior of a Tuscany villa. Another saw a thrilling roller coaster ride.
While some participants played the VR games containing the virtual nose, others played without it. Participants were not informed about the presence of the nose and surprisingly, they didn’t even notice its presence while playing.
The study showed that people played the Tuscany villa game, an average of 94.2 seconds longer without feeling sick, when the virtual nose was there. For the roller coaster game they were able to play an average of 2.2 seconds longer.
Whittinghill said “The roller coaster demo is short, but it’s very intense at times, spinning upside down, jumping across chasms, plunging fully vertical, so people can’t do it very long under the best of circumstances. We had a reliable increase of 2 seconds, and it was a very clear trend. For the Tuscany demo it takes more time, but eventually you start getting queasy, and 94 seconds is a huge improvement.”
Electro dermal activity (EDA) sensors were also used to record electrical conduction across the skin. The sensors are affected by sweating which is associated when a person is excited, which acts as a proxy indication of simulator sickness. With the results, difference in EDA was seen in subjects playing with the nose and without it.
However, it is not yet clear why this virtual nose decreases the simulator sickness. The research is still continuing. Whittinghill said “Our suspicion is that you have this stable object that your body is accustomed to tuning out, but it’s still there and your sensory system knows it.”
He added “Our long-term goal is to create a fully predictive model of simulator sickness that will allow us to predict, given a specific set of perceptual and individual inputs, what level of simulator sickness one can expect.”
So, we can expect a future where we can play virtual reality games to our heart’s content without feeling nauseous.
What’s your take?
Do you feel the addition of a virtual reality nose can reduce simulator sickness? Have you tried out any virtual reality game yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image & Article Source – phys.org