There's an Easy Way to Make Virtual Reality Less Pukey

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images / Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Researchers and artists are just starting to tap into the potential of virtual reality, a medium that can allow us to experience what it’s like to live with a developmental disorder, help conserve endangered wildlife and explore fragile habitats, and see art in a whole new way. 

Unfortunately, virtual reality can also make people feel queasy. But a few design tweaks can help people feel more at ease in virtual reality, as the MIT Technology Review reports. In a study presented at the 2016 IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces in Greenville, South Carolina [PDF], Columbia University researchers find that narrowing the field of view presented through the head up display can reduce cybersickness. 

Fernandes and Feiner,IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (2016)

A total of 30 volunteers explored a virtual environment with an Oculus Rift, occasionally being interrupted and asked to rate their discomfort levels. Each volunteer participated in two virtual reality sessions, one with a blinker design that restricted their field of vision, and one where the view of the environment was unfettered. 

Half the participants didn’t even notice that the view had changed, and among those who did, most preferred the restricted view. Participants flipped through 11 different designs for blinkers, rating those with soft edges as least noticeable. 

Now if only they would start making field-of-view headsets to keep people from getting carsick. 

[h/t MIT Technology Review]