Cybersickness in Head-mounted Displays

With a global installed user base of over 28 million people, virtual reality is a rapidly advancing field with numerous emerging applications in training, education, rehabilitation, healthcare, social communications, and entertainment. Unfortunately, motion sickness (aka simulator sickness, or cybersickness) significantly limits their accessibility and has slowed the public adoption of immersive technologies. This project offers a novel, empirically-grounded research methodology that will allow us to study, predict, detect, and ultimately mitigate cyber.sickness, which can substantially improve both the subjective user experience and the effectiveness of current and future virtual reality applications. In addition, prior research has shown that motion sickness phenomena disproportionally impacts women. This project seeks to advance fundamental understanding of these differences, and to develop adaptive strategies for mitigating simulator sickness on an individual level, which can ultimately increase the overall number of potential users worldwide and erode the inequitable barriers that currently exist for engaging with immersive technologies. Additionally, this project will also result in the creation of a large-scale motion kinematics dataset that will be made publicly available for future research, and software techniques developed under this effort will be distributed under permissive open-source licenses to facilitate their implementation and adoption by virtual reality practitioners in government and industry.

Cybersickness is one of the most significant challenges facing the virtual reality field. It is a major barrier that limits the accessibility and public adoption of immersive technologies. This project seeks to address this problem through a systematic effort that will advance fundamental understanding of the relationship between motion kinematics and the adverse symptoms commonly experienced by users of virtual reality systems. The project has several aims.

  1. To develop models that predict the likelihood of experiencing simulator sickness based on an individual's motion characteristics.
  2. To introduce real-time methods for early detection of sickness onset before the user experiences discomfort.
  3. To identify specific problematic virtual reality stimuli that are associated with simulator sickness.
  4. To develop adaptive mitigation strategies to reduce the likelihood and severity of adverse symptoms.
  5. To evaluate rigorously the effectiveness and tradeoffs of newly developed techniques. The outcomes of this work will advance scientific understanding of motion sickness phenomena and introduce new technological approaches that address one of virtual reality's most significant usability challenges.

The project will make contributions to basic science (the etiology of motion sickness) and to the development of new technological interventions that can mitigate simulator sickness in virtual reality. The project offers methodological innovation in several areas related to the fundamental study of motion sickness phenomena and provides the first opportunity to investigate whether stability of eye gaze can be used for prediction or early detection of simulator sickness.