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Reducing virtual reality sickness

What is virtual reality (VR) sickness? A form of motion sickness that affects some virtual reality platform users who use head-mounted displays. The NSERC-Prompt Industrial Research Chair in User Experience recently conducted a study on this topic. Results suggest that integrating movement into the platforms is a good way to combat this problem.

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY

D-BOX Technologies, a Quebec-based SME has designed and marketed a cinema seat to enhance the virtual reality experience by adding high-fidelity motion to stimulate some of the user’s senses.

This sensory interface, which can be adapted to different environments (cinema, video games, etc.), has already created a buzz among many content creators. The designers of the device wished to collaborate with the NSERC-Prompt Industrial Research Chair in User Experience in order to check whether the device could, among other things, mitigate the effects of VR sickness.

A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH

Researchers from HEC Montréal’s Tech3Lab measured specific parameters of 45 users of this high-fidelity motion system, during 10-minute sequences. Their readings confirmed that the components incorporated into this chair do indeed increase the sense of immersion and generate a better psychophysiological state among testers.

  • They no longer display symptoms of VR sickness (dizziness, nausea, etc.).
  • On the contrary, there seems to be a heightened sense of presence in virtual reality (increased head movements, sweating, etc.).

This study, which is a first, made it possible to understand that discomfort arises when there is dissonance between what the body does and the visual information that the brain records. However, when a highly precise movement is added to the experience, it “tricks” the brain. The brain then interprets as being real, what it perceives, thereby reducing VR sickness.

A BREAKTHROUGH FOR THE VR INDUSTRY

The results have exceeded the initial expectations of D-BOX Technologies.

  • The company can now position itself better in the entertainment market and consider imposing its technology as a standard. This scientific approval serves to consolidate the ties that have already been forged with the most important players in the sector.
  • New doors could open for the SME. In fact, its high-fidelity motion technology could be adapted to devices other than cinema seats, such as magic carpets, or floors, for example. We could also consider integrating virtual reality into D-BOX seats that are already installed in cinema halls: this improved occupation of space would thereby make the investments profitable.

This study also opens up new possibilities for an industry whose rapid growth might be curbed by VR sickness.

AN INDUSTRIAL COLLABORATION

“The results of this study crown 15 years of effort. We knew we owned excellent technology, but attesting to it with rigorous research has given us an incredible boost in credibility.”
Michel Paquette, Vice-President Corporate Affairs, D-BOX Technologies

“Our mission is to promote knowledge in the field of technology interface assessment. Partnerships with industry offer us a unique opportunity to achieve this and to also train highly qualified professionals.”
Pierre-Majorique Léger, chairholder of the NSERC-Prompt Industrial Research Chair in User Experience
 

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