Why Do Some People Get Nauseous Wearing Virtual Reality Headsets?

Why Do Some People Get Nauseous Wearing Virtual Reality Headsets?

Learn why virtual reality headsets cause nausea and what's being done to stop the problem. 

The tech “powers that be” proclaimed 2016 as the “year of virtual reality” and in many ways they were right. As headsets like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR hit the market, millions of people entered the world of immersive computing. But as they began to experience the amazing world of VR, reports began to surface of a new form of sickness.

Scientists have confirmed that these new headsets do in fact cause a form of motion sickness dubbed “VR sickness.” Headset makers, game programmers, and software developers have been working hard to combat it, but some people are still reporting that virtual reality is making them sick. Within the industry, insiders are worried that this could be a major obstacle to widespread adoption.

The future of the technology depends on a cure. Today, VR headsets are being used primarily for gaming and education. Some businesses like luxury real estate sales have already adopted the technology and VR may play a huge role in the future in everything from on-the-job-training to sales, product development, and healthcare.

Let's explore why some users may experience the nausea and discomfort of motion sickness when wearing a VR headset and what tech companies are doing to address the problem.

What Is Virtual Reality Sickness?

In general, motion sickness is fairly common. For example, during a flight that experiences turbulence, more than 25 percent of the passengers will exhibit symptoms of motion sickness. Many of us experience symptoms like nausea, sweating and headaches when we travel by car, train or plane. We just pop an anti-nausea pill, take some ginger or just wait it out.

There are a range of theories for why people experience motion sickness. When it comes to virtual reality, the main cause is thought to be visual mismatches and this creates symptoms that tend to be oculomotor in nature. The result can be eye strain, difficulty focusing and headaches. Of course, it's much more complicated than that, but it can be boiled down to sensory conflict. There's a lot of interesting science happening around this issue. The general consensus is that VR sickness is caused by a conflict within the vestibular system (your balance and inner ear), visual system (what you are seeing) and your kinesthetic (movement) inputs.

Sensors in the headset can accurately track movement and adjust quickly to keep the experience “real”, it can't do it as quickly as in the real world. It needs to track movement within 5 to 10 milliseconds. Any time lag beyond 10 milliseconds can cause a sensory conflict and induce sickness.

Although time lag is the most common reason people experience discomfort, VR affects users in other ways as well. Sensory conflict, for example, flying through a virtual world while seated at a gaming console, and the proximity effect of being so close to the screen are other potential causes.

Why Virtual Reality Can Trigger Sickness In Some, But Not All Users

New studies suggest that women are 4 times more likely to experience motion sickness than men. In fact, the two biggest predictors are age and gender. Women are not only more likely to experience sickness, but the symptoms tend to be more acute. No one is sure why this is the case, but scientists are exploring the hormonal cycle as a potential cause. Age is also a predicting factor with signs beginning at an early age, peaking at around 20 years old, then declining. Genetics can also play a role. And it appears that people who suffer migraines, inner ear conditions and sight problems also have a higher incidence of VR sickness.

How Companies Are Addressing the Issue of VR Sickness

All of the major developers are aware of and working on the problem of VR sickness. In order for the technology to reach its full potential, there is no other choice. Many of the issues with VR sickness can be addressed by creating less lag time within an environment. Film runs at a rate of 30 frames per second (fps). Virtual reality needs to run at least three times that speed, a minimum of 90fps in order to reduce lag times to within 10 milliseconds.

The big brands like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR all run at high frame rates which dramatically reduce lag times. While incidents of VR sickness are still being reported with these headsets, it seems to be at a reduced rate.

Many companies are looking at various solutions including creating mixed reality, which helps reduce sickness rates, but mixed reality doesn't create the immersive experience of VR. Some other areas being researched include:

• Using traditional motion sickness remedies like ginger or Dramamine

• Wearing a nerve stimulating wristband

• Expanding or reducing the field of view

• Using optical illusions to trick the brain to eliminate the need for controller movements

• Walking on a specialized treadmill when wearing the headset

The technology is still in its infancy. As it continues to evolve, the major developers will address and rectify the issues involved with VR sickness. The fact is, virtual reality is poised to change the way we view the world. As more companies and industries enter development and begin to use the technology solutions will emerge that will make mass adoption inevitable.

At Village Features we are using VR to help developers change the way they market their properties. If you'd like to learn more, give us a call. Let us show you how our proprietary virtual reality system can increase your sales, reduce your time to market and lower your costs. Without the motion sickness!

Facebook 360 and The Rise of Virtual Reality Content in Ads

Facebook 360 and The Rise of Virtual Reality Content in Ads

Facebook 360 For Luxury Property Developers

With the release of the Oculus Rift and the company's subsequent purchase by Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is taking a big stake in the emerging virtual reality industry. While still in its infancy, VR is making new inroads almost daily into our lives as an education tool, a way to see the world without leaving your home, and a business tool that is being used to transform the luxury property market.

In the past year, as the technology to create virtual reality videos has improved, the 360-degree video has become one form of VR that is gaining popularity. 360 advertising is popping up all over!

While not exactly a “true” immersive VR experience, a 360-degree video is viewable on all manner of devices from tablets and laptops to smartphones and headsets like the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR or Google cardboard. Users can “walk” around within the space by using a mouse on their laptop, or be dragging a finger around the screen on a tablet or smartphone.

How Does it Work?

Facebook 360 is powered by Oculus, the application designed for use with the Samsung Gear VR. Today, there are more that 25 million 360 degree images and 1 million videos on Facebook.

With the availability of 360-degree cameras like the Nikon KeyMission 360 or the GoPro 3D Hero System, the hardware is there for social media use. Until the Oculus app, there was no specific software application for exploring 3D on Facebook. Using the Oculus app allows you to open up the possibilities using Facebook 360 as an interactive advertising medium. Facebook allows files of up to 5GB or up to 30 minutes of video, more than enough space to create a 360-degree virtual walkthrough of your home.

The Power of Facebook 360 Advertising

Right now the two biggest libraries featuring 360 adverting are YouTube and Facebook. While there are some limitations on Facebook (you can only view them using a Samsung Gear VR and the appropriate phone) Facebook 360 advertising is already changing the way brands interact and engage with consumers.

The technology, from the cameras to the lighting and sound, from the narrative to the specific 360 post production techniques, is an entirely new way of telling your story. As a result, you really need to approach creating 360 ads with a different mindset than traditional video. The viewer has complete control over the user experience and can look anywhere they want to. Up, down, left, right, backwards and forwards.

360/VR allows you to present your property or product in a unique, effective and emotionally bonding way. This makes the technology perfect for selling luxury properties.

Justifying the Costs

While most of the current content that has been created was done by amateurs (showing that there is a potentially huge market for this technology) when using 360 video in an advertising context, it's best to work with professionals to create content. You need to be aware that the costs of content creation can be more than regular video. 360/VR videos use special cameras (they are expensive) special lighting, special post production and editing techniques and complicated logistics.

The big question for businesses considering this technology as a sales tool is, do the benefits outweigh the costs? Let's look at the evidence.

Recent studies have found that compared to traditional advertising, 360/VR ads are getting higher click through rates, more views, better, more measurable engagement and a lower cost per impression than traditional advertising. Additional studies have shown that consumers, especially hard to impress millennials, view brands that engage viewers with 360 and VR content in a more positive way.

This is not surprising considering that Facebook 360/VR ads engage users in ways that are impossible in a traditional context. There's no denying that Facebook 360 advertising offers plenty of benefits for real estate agents, developers, and sellers.

At Village Features we help our clients to create 360-degree videos and VR content that provides them competitive differentiation and makes their brand stand out from the crowd. Now is the time to get involved. Early adopters will reap the greatest benefits from this new technology. If you'd like to learn how we've been helping clients like Kiawah Island Resorts experience double-digit sales growth give us a call. We're always happy to answer your questions. Better yet, schedule a no-obligation consult and let us show you the benefits of VR advertising and Facebook 360!