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'virtual Nose' May Reduce Simulator Sickness in Video Games

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A screenshot from an application in which the user rides a roller coaster.

Virtual reality games often cause simulator sickness inducing vertigo and sometimes nausea - but new research findings point to a potential strategy to ease the affliction: insert an image of a virtual human nose into the center of the video display.

Credit: David Whittinghill/Purdue University

Vertigo and nausea cased by virtual reality games potentially could be cured with the insertion of a virtual human nose in the center of the video display.

"Your perceptual system does not like it when the motion of your body and your visual system are out of synch," notes Purdue University professor David Whittinghill. He thinks the virtual nose solution could be very beneficial because "you are constantly seeing your own nose. You tune it out, but it's still there, perhaps giving you a frame of reference to help ground you."

Whittinghill's research team found the virtual nose reduced simulator sickness when placed within popular games. Forty-one test subjects ran several virtual reality applications of varying motion intensity, including a simulated roller coaster ride, while wearing a virtual reality headset, with some games equipped with the virtual nose and others not.

"Surprisingly, subjects did not notice the [virtual nose] while they were playing the games, and they were incredulous when its presence was revealed to them later in debriefings," Whittinghill says.

He notes the project aims "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."

From Purdue University News
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