Virtual reality convinces your body it's on an adventure while your mind is on the couch.

Unlike video games and augmented reality, VR creates immersion by isolating your primary senses. Since you no longer have any visibility of your real environment, your mind is fully convinced it has journeyed to another world. Let's look a little deeper into motion sickness to fully understand how it works.

What is motion sickness?

To conquer it, you must understand it. Balance and spatial orientation is maintained in mammals by the vestibular system, or inner ear. The inner ear has two organ systems: one that can interpret lateral movement (similar to an accelerometer) and one that interprets rotational movement (like a gyroscope). Motion sickness occurs when the motion sensed by the organs of the inner ear differs from the movement interpreted by your eyes.

This is why it's common for some people to feel motion sickness on a bouncing boat in rough waters or even in some virtual reality games - our eyes think our bodies should be moving one way, while our inner ear is telling us something completely different.

How to prevent motion sickness in virtual reality

First, we should mention that not all VR experiences will result in motion sickness and VR motion sickness differs from that suffered in cars or boats. In cars, boats and roller coasters, movement is repetitive and the motion is constant. In most VR experiences (with exception of racing games), movement occurs infrequently and the user retains enough control of their movement within the experience for the brain to interpret motion correctly. Here are some situations with VR that may cause motion sickness:


1. Poorly optimized hardware

Outdated video cards are one of the leading causes of motion sickness in VR. Staggering, choppy framerates are a huge burden on your brain as it tries to adapt to it's visual environment. It's impossible for the motion of your inner ear to match the visual cues of a choppy, jerky experience unless your physical movements mirror those jerky motions perfectly (which would look pretty bizarre to your friends and family). 

Recommendation: Upgrade your graphics card. A Nvidia GTX 1080 is recommended for a seamless VR experience.


2. Racing games and other VR transportation sims

If you're susceptible to motion sickness in cars, you're going to have a rough time with racing games in VR. In-game, if you're accelerating at top speed, it's very common to be hit by a wave of nausea as your brain struggles to understand why the sight of turning a corner at 120 mph isn't matching the motion of the inner ear, which is sitting still.

Recommendation: If you've had car motion sickness in the past, try physically leaning when turning corners in virtual reality racing games. Otherwise, avoid all together.


3. Blocked sensors

Each VR system uses some method to determine your location in the virtual space. The HTC Vive system for example, uses two sensors that are placed across room in the corners of the designated play area. If someone accidentally bumps into these sensors, the wearer's virtual environment will start to move, disorienting you and potentially causing motion sickness.

Recommendation: Secure sensors higher up the wall, preferably on a fixed and vibrationless surface


4. CLIPPING (when your environment doesn't make sense)

"Head clipping" occurs in the virtual world when the user passes through an object that he or she should not have passed through. For example, leaning into a wall would allow the user to go through the wall, and since we can't go through walls in real life, it confuses our brains.

Recommendation: Have strategically configured boundaries in the virtual world, or be cautious of your method of transportation in VR.


5. BONUS TIP: EAT SOME GINGER

Ginger has been reported to aid with motion sickness. It's not scientifically proven of course, so there's no guarantees it'll work, but ginger's medicinal properties have been known by numerous cultures dating back centuries. You can read more about it here: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/motion-sickness

As VR becomes more popular, (Dan: place something here like... "there will be more and more people figuring out these small issues and problems, and finding better solutions to over come them. ) Thankfully, Beyond Builder is designed with all these (issues? [syn?) to ensure that our VR experience is as smooth as possible.

The most helpful tip is also probably the most obvious: if you ever feel queasy using while using VR, take a break and let your brain catch up.

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