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Fighting Virtual Reality Sickness

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Views of virtual environment before and after subtle dynamic field-of-view modification.

Researchers at Columbia University have developed a method of combating virtual reality sickness that can be applied to consumer head-worn virtual reality displays.

Credit: Ajoy Fernandes and Steve Feiner

Virtual reality (VR) sickness associated with consumer VR headsets can be alleviated with subtle changes to the user's field of view (FOV), according to researchers from Columbia University.

VR sickness is caused when the user's movement in the virtual environment differs from how they are physically standing or sitting in the real world, and the discrepancy between the visual motion cues and the inner ear's physical motion cues makes the user uncomfortable or nauseous.

Columbia professor Steven K. Feiner and researcher Ajoy Fernandes developed a method to make subtle changes to FOV without the user noticing. The software restricts FOV by partially obscuring each eye's view with a soft-edged border. The size and speed of the obstruction are increased when the mismatch between physical and virtual motion are greater.

Participants in the study said their VR experiences were more comfortable with the FOV restrictors and most did not notice the change in FOV.

Feiner and Fernandes plan to experiment with different cutout shapes and textures and to study the effect of reducing or increasing FOV based on heart rate or optical-flow monitoring. "It is critical that the [VR] experience be both comfortable and compelling, and we think we've found a way," Feiner says.

From Columbia University
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