The Tough Part of Using a VR Device: Nausea / by Rosana Vidal

Though virtual reality technology has been around for almost two decades, hardware and software developers are still working to resolve VR-related nausea and motion sickness. Researchers believe that VR-related nausea is caused by sensory conflict, or a dissonance between what your eyes see on screen and the motion (or lack thereof) your body feels. One study found that adding a virtual nose to VR scenes can reduce negative physical effects, and companies like Oculus are trying to combat nausea with improved hardware.

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to minimize or even eliminate VR motion sickness, whether you’re using Google Cardboard or a more advanced headset. Here are some tips for maximizing your comfort while watching VR:

Ensure a proper fit

When using Google Cardboard and similar devices, make sure to align your phone with the viewer properly. The center of your phone screen should align with the center of the viewer, and you’ll want to turn off the zoom setting if you’ve enabled it for your device. For the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and other head-mounted displays, make sure the headset fits properly and that the eye measurements are correct.

Allow your body to acclimate

When you first start using your headset, let your body ease into it by using it for just a few minutes at a time. As you grow accustomed to using the headset, you can wear it for longer intervals.

Avoid sensory overload

Sometimes we feel nausea as the result of sensory overload. To avoid this when watching VR, turn down the volume and adjust the brightness of the screen for a less overwhelming experience. You should also take regular breaks - Oculus recommends a 10 to 15 minute break every 30 minutes.

Reduce movement (in and out of VR)

When moving through a game or experience, move at the slowest possible speed. Don’t use your headset in a moving vehicle, and keep your body movements minimal.

Take time to look around

When you first enter virtual reality, look around so your body can adjust to any differences between real-world and on-screen movements. Some users find it helpful to focus on one object when acclimating to the new environment and when moving around.

Pay attention to your symptoms

Stop using the headset immediately if you experience nausea, lightheadedness, eye strain, or fatigue. Avoid using your headset when you are tired, intoxicated, or under emotional stress, as these factors could make you more susceptible to nausea and other adverse reactions.

As VR technology continues to advance, VR-induced nausea will hopefully become a thing of the past. In the meantime, we can take these simple steps to make VR experiences as pleasant as possible.