Will VR make me feel sick?

With any new technology, it’s easy to have concerns about the repercussions. Just to clarify: at Augmentality Labs, we’ve observed that it has been rare for customers to get motion sickness on our HTC Vive setups.

That being said, it can take people 5-10 minutes to get their “sea legs” as they get acclimated to a VR experience. We also tend to recommend different games with less motion while people who are prone to motion sickness get adjusted.

What is virtual reality sickness?

VR sickness is what happens when you’re exposed to a VR environment and it causes symptoms similar to motion sickness.

It’s different from motion sickness because real motion isn’t needed - it’s caused just by feeling like you’re moving in a simulator. VR sickness is also different than what’s been called simulator sickness, as simulator sickness is what pilots can get in flight simulators and can be more intense than just the disorienting feelings from VR.

The changing hardware

Things are significantly better now due to the HTC Vive and other high-end pieces of equipment.

There’s better optics, better tracking sensors, and more importantly - better response time/frame rates and resolution that help a majority of users. Framerate is typically tied to VR sickness so the better framerate a system can handle, the better off you’ll be.

The changing software

 Plank Not Included has no in-game locomotion and doesn't include visualization of any of the player's body, which prevents VR sickness. Yet it's still one of our most engaging experiences!

Plank Not Included has no in-game locomotion and doesn't include visualization of any of the player's body, which prevents VR sickness. Yet it's still one of our most engaging experiences!

Developers are also doing their part when it comes to minimizing VR sickness. The slower and more predictable the camera is, the less sick people will feel. And there have been a few good tricks generated along the way. Putting a user in a static environment, like putting them in a cabin or a capsule or a cockpit, helps people feel more stationary. Teleportation is also a locomotion concept that helps get rid of movement visualization which therefore helps people get rid of motion sickness.

Not creating a full visual of the body also helps with perception and disorientation - developers not visualizing or animating parts of the body that can’t be tracked helps reduce cognitive dissonance.

To read more, check out this overview by Oculus for some techniques that developers are using to minimize VR sickness.

Give it a chance!

Virtual reality systems have come a long way since the 90’s and even in the past 2-3 years, advancements have been massive. And the more you experience VR, the less likely you are to experience VR sickness.

If you’re going to try VR for the first time, make sure you’re doing it with a very high-end system like an HTC Vive. This will help minimize the chances of you feeling VR sickness and overall guarantee a better experience.