3D Games, Motion Controllers, and Motion Sickness

A Science Daily report called "Motion Sickness Reality in Virtual World, Too" discusses a new study about motion sickness associated with the Xbox 360 Kinect and PlayStation 3 Move. Clemson University (Clemson, SC) psychologist Eric Muth says that motion sickness from high-end technology that was at one time limited only to commercial marketplace and government training simulations is now in livings rooms across the U.S. This means that, with more access to this technology and the advent of 3D TV, motion sickness may become a more common thing to regular consumers. 

"What was once limited to the military and high-tech research, where users were screened and monitored for negative reactions, is available now to the public," said Muth, who is director of Clemson’s Human Factors Institute. "You’re not talking about carefully selected users like pilots and astronauts. Anybody with a few hundred dollars to spend can use it and the access will spread. The downside could be that people sensitive to visual disorders and susceptible to motion sickness suffer symptoms ranging from nausea to seizures. There needs to be a lot more research into the side effects."

Muth’s research focuses on helmet-mounted displays that are used in virtual-environments. Prior to coming to Clemson 11 years ago, Muth spent three years in the Navy as an "aerospace experimental psychologist" where he worked on wearable monitors and tracking systems for military training and to monitor soldiers, sailors and marines during combat. Now he uses the helmet-mounted to study things like motion sickness, nausea and other "upper gastrointestinal discomforts."

"Basically, when people are exposed to stimuli from a helmet-mounted display in the lab, it involves linking a subject’s head movements to the changing view in the virtual environment," he said. "The response is complicated. It is not just a perceptual adjustment. Years ago research showed that the brain can re-set an upside-down view of world to be right side up. Constantly changing images pose a bigger challenge for the brain, which has to deal with ‘lag’: the time it takes the computer system to update and display changing visual images corresponding to the users head movements. This may be a variable linked to motion sickness and other symptoms related to helmet-mounted devices."

Muth and the Human Factors Institute want to improve the way people interact with technology and devices. He predicts that, as helmet-mounted devices become a a normal element in living room gaming, people will want to learn more about the possible side effects.

Source: Science Daily

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