Microsoft working to solve nausea problems when using VR equipment

By: Madeleine Dean
2 minute read

Virtual reality is the coolest technology available, offering amazing experiences that make users wonder question how real they were. VR lets you emerge in the computer world and become part of very interesting universes. The experience is so overwhelming that sometimes you simply forget to take off your VR headset, remaining connected to the VR world for hours on end. The problem with that? Prolonged VR use can lead to nausea.

Why does nausea occur when wearing VR headsets? The answer seems to lie in the limited field of vision. Humans have a field of view of more than 180 degrees which is limited to around 100 degrees when using VR equipment. If you add other factors such as the lens quality, the frame rate decrease or prolonged VR headset wearing, you have the perfect recipe for nausea. Whether you are wearing the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, you will experience nausea if you keep the VR headset on for too long.

Also, the contradictory signals that your brain receives while experiencing the VR world lead to confusion. In virtual reality, environment signals become uncoupled. Your brain knows that the real world you are sitting on the couch, but in the virtual world you are running through the forest. Your eyes see that you are running but your body knows you are not moving. This is the same principle that explains car sickness.

Microsoft’s Research Team has fortunately come with a solution to widen the field of view. They put a series of LEDs inside of a VR headset. The LEDs act like pixels and increase the field of view. The team developed two proof-of-concept implementations. The first concept is called “Sparse Peripheral Display” and consist of 17 peripheral LEDs mounted on the VR headset that create a 170-degree field of view.

The second concept is called “SparseLightAR” and uses 112 peripheral LEDs to create a 190-degree horizontal field of view. Microsoft’s Research Team also conducted a study to see how these two concepts improve the user experience and the results are encouraging:

Our findings show that sparse peripheral displays are useful in conveying peripheral information and improving situational awareness, are generally preferred, and can help reduce motion sickness in nausea-susceptible people.

If you’re interesting in testing out the VR world, you can buy the Oculus Rift from the Microsoft Store starting from tomorrow.

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