When people dream about what they want to do in VR, it inevitably involves actually moving around within a virtual environment. But VR locomotion triggers simulator sickness in a lot of people, and solving it is one of the biggest open problems in virtual reality. NextGen Interactions’ Jason Jerald wrote a comprehensive summary of much of the pertinent academic research about VR in The VR Book, and in Chapter 12 he summarizes the five major theories of what may cause simulator sickness.
I had a chance to catch up with Jason after he taught a class about Human-Centered Design for VR at the IEEE VR conference, and he explained each of the five different theories that may cause simulator sickness including the Sensory Conflict Theory, Evolutionary Theory, Postural Instability Theory, Rest Frame Hypothesis, and the Eye Movement Theory.
Jason also talks about ways to mitigate simulator sickness including implementing different viewpoint control patterns, using a cockpit, providing a leading indicator of movements, walking in place, vibrating the floor, reducing texture complexity, and limiting optical flow in the periphery. He also discusses the tradeoffs for varying the Representational Fidelity ranging from stylized to photorealistic, and the Interaction Fidelity ranging from abstracted to literal and natural gestures. While there are ways to mitigate some of these causes of simulator sickness for VR locomotion, some of them remain open problems yet to be solved by the wider VR community.
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