Millions of people are getting their hands on the cheap virtual reality headsets daily and enjoying the realistic nature of the new technology. But are they aware of the dangers and perils associated with using VR? Will this give rise to a new breed of health problems?
We will try to answer these questions in this article.
Cybersickness is a cumulative term being used to recognize the ailments that are caused by numerous digitals devices people use daily. It is considered as a natural response to an unnatural environment.
They use this all-encompassing term when describing motion sickness that VR users feel when they use a VR headset for a few minutes. A person experiences motion sickness when his brain gets the signal of movement from the body while he is still. It is created when the brain receiving conflicting signals. It is typically caused by the sense of balance in your inner ear. Motion sickness may cause nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
Although motion sickness has come into the forefront with the rising popularity of virtual reality, it was present to a milder degree in people who spend a lot of time looking at mobile phones. It is caused by watching fast motion on a screen.
The effects are more predominant in VR users especially when they take up the role of a character that moves fast. Most of the top end headsets have sensors that have a lag of 50 milliseconds. With such low latency, it fools our brain into believing the simulated world is real, but our inner ear can still sense the disconnection and screams its disapproval.
According to one study, women and Type A people are more prone to motion sickness. The more realistic the VR environment gets, the more severe the effect of motion sickness will be on its users. Oculus, the biggest VR manufacturers admitted motion sickness is one of the biggest challenges being faced by the VR industry.
So is there a way around this cybersickness?
Oculus and several other VR manufacturers heavily emphasis on following a strict set of rules while using VR gear to minimize discomfort.
- Start slow. Limit your first exposure to a few minutes and never go beyond the 30-minute limit.
- Adjust the interpupillary distance in the lens before you use the device.
- Minimize the speed of your screen character. Slow movement reduces the chance of nausea.
- Keep the brightness and contrast low, else the high energy visible rays will damage your eyes.
- Do no use the VR headset when you are tired, sleepy, under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering substances.
- Choose your VR content carefully. If you are not used to violence or anxiety-provoking incidents, do not attempt to watch them in VR.
- If you have a history of dizziness, seizures, muscle twitching or eye weakness, seek the advice of your doctor before using VR devices.
- If you are prone to seasickness, take a tablet like Dramamine to reduce the effects of motion sickness before you play with VR. Consult your doctor before taking any medication.
- Have another adult in the room while you play. While you are immersed in the virtual world, they can watch you and make sure of your safety.