If you’ve never had a migraine, you might imagine it as just a bit worse than your run-of-the-mill headache, or assume the sufferer is using it as an excuse. But anyone who’s experienced a migraine knows that they can be debilitating. That’s why Excedrin has created a Migraine Simulator, a head-mounted display (HMD) that uses the Oculus Rift development kit (DK1) to give users a sense of what a migraine is really like.
The experiment involved having family and friends of migraine sufferers wear the HMD for 30 minutes during a normal day to see what it’s like to suddenly develop—and carry on working during—a severe migraine. Each user’s visual display was individualized to replicate the exact visual symptoms of their partner. Using an HMD modified to include a pass-through camera and connected to a PC rig worn on the user’s back, the wearer could see what it’s like to have auras, light sensitivity, blurred vision, dizziness, and vertigo.
One thing the HMD can't simulate is the pounding headaches associated with migraines, but that might not even be necessary to get the point across: The participants stumble and fumble around, and when they remove the simulators, they look ill. "Can I take this off?" one volunteer, wearing the device at his office, asks. "I can't see anything ... it's a bit too much." Another, pushing a baby stroller, pulls the simulator off, saying he feels "a bit sick."