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Virtual Reality Gets Comfy 27

Roland Piquepaille writes "If you ever participated to some virtual reality (VR) experiments, you know that the environment is quite expensive and not always user-friendly. In fact, in some immersive environments, it's even possible to feel bad because of motion sickness. This is why researchers from Germany and Sweden have developed a new VR environment where the participants believe they're moving while being seated. This approach, which relies on visual and auditory illusions, could lead to commercial low-cost VR simulators in the near future."
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Virtual Reality Gets Comfy

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  • This is why researchers from Germany and Sweden have developed a new VR environment where the participants believe they're moving while being seated. This approach, which relies on visual and auditory illusions, could lead to commercial low-cost VR simulators in the near future.

    Unless this approach can cause that odd sensation in one's stomach that one feels while falling, then one can't really claim that one feels full movement. What I especially admire about Stephenson's description of the Metaverse [] in

    • ...a new VR environment where the participants believe they're moving while being seated.

      I believe I experienced this in college on weekends, only it involved consuming fermented hops in amounts far beyond my tolerance level. No Swedish VR simulator was required, however German beer was.

  • Motion Sickness (Score:5, Informative)

    by JehCt ( 879940 ) * on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @03:21AM (#15147276) Homepage Journal
    With seasickness, one of the best cures is to sit on deck, feel the wind, see the waves, and watch the horizon. Going below where you feel the motion but don't see it is absolutely the worst thing to do. Perhaps the brain likes all it's sensory inputs to give consistent information. So if you are in VR and your eyes and ears indicate "motion," but your sense of touch (pressure on what supports you) says "standing still," that will probably lead to sickness. I am not sure what to make of this discovery. Maybe they have established better sensory consistency so there is less sickness.
    • The best thing to do with seasickness is hit the bar and get wasted. You'll still throw up and fail to walk straight, but at least you'll have fun while doing it.

      Kidding aside, perhaps VR sickness is less of an issue because it is a negative of seasickness and the brain places less importance on feeling than seeing. If we see that:

      Seasickness: Lots of movement but no visuals (while inside)
      VR sickness: Lots of visuals but no movement

      While it's true that the brain 'prefers' all available sensory information
      • Re:Motion Sickness (Score:3, Informative)

        by smallfries ( 601545 )
        VR sickness is induced differently. That occurs because there is real motion (of your head), but there is a timelag between this motion and the change in picture. Your brain can't handle the lag as your ears and eyes don't match up, and so you feel sick.

        The alternative that they are referring to in the article is a motion pod. In a pod you get thrown around alot, which will make you feel sick anyway, but you probably also have a lag between the feeling and motion. Every year we get a bunch of students that
        • I have some added information about "VR Sickness". I've never thought of it as the lag between visuals and movement that induced the sickness, though I could see that as being a reason. The problem that I've always noticed about VR motion-simulation "seats" or "pods" or what-have-you, is that to simulate things like accelerating forwards, they will rotate you backwards, so gravity is pulling you back into your seat. My inner-ear notices the backwards rotation though, and it usually doesn't correspond with t

    • Just last Tuesday I participated in a driving experiment in a 360 deg field of view simulator. It mostly involved cruising straight through intersections and looking for changes. However, at the end of this long road we had to turn around and come back. The sensation when braking and turning is amazing but not very enjoyable. It was an instant wave of sick but was only temporary. I only get motion sickness while reading in a car, but this was an instant trigger. At the end of the experiment I asked to
  • Is anyone else waiting for the 'total immersion' described in Gibson's novels and in Otherland?

    I particularily liked how in Otherland they used 'old tech' that was basically a tank of gel that you had to lie in. It reinforced the gradients that the VR technology went through to get to the 'plug yourself in and go' option that most people just use everywhere (mostly - still expensive enough that not all people have it).
    • The downside is that you need a satellite filled with the deformed brain from some mutant baby...

      Offtopic - I love Tad Williams' writing, and most of Otherland was awesome, but the last half of the last book just fell apart at the seams.


  • Low-cost? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DrMrLordX ( 559371 )
    I don't see anything in the article that makes me think this new technology will reduce the cost of VR simulators. Am I missing something here?

    Furthermore, one of the worst parts of VR simulators I've see has been lack of compelling content. They all seem to feature the same draw, namely that it's VR and that it's novel, fresh, and appealing. Immersiveness is law! Wait, I'm sounding like Romero here, urk.

    Ahem. Anyway, once you get over the immersion factor, what's left? Not much, usually. The same can
    • Re-reading TFA seems to indicate this new tech will be cheaper vs simulators that move the participant to produce the illusion of motion. Fair enough. Even still, I doubt that the result would necessarily qualify as "low cost" unless the tech becomes widespread.
  • Now we get flight sims that make you vomit if you're a bad pilot. Talk 'bout total immersion... even if I for one wouldn't enjoy being immersed in my breakfast.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When it was called "Star Tours" [] at Disneyland.

    Still one of the best rides there, in fact...

  • Simulation, NOT VR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MasterOfGoingFaster ( 922862 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @05:16AM (#15147492) Homepage
    Hmmm... I've used a couple of real VR rigs (twin SGI workstations for the headset) and the setup described in the article is not true VR. In a true VR, you are in an artificial reality - the computer provides your sensory inputs (visual, sound and some touch). As a rule of thumb, if you can see your own body and the room you are in, it is not VR. The experience is one you won't forget.

    You don't get motion sickness in VR, as long as you don't move. But if you are moved, your body becomes confused because you sense the movement, and it conflicts with what you see. Thus, it is exactly the same as being below deck in a ship on rough seas.

    Besides, the technology in the article is far from new. I believe Disney used it, and it is much like I-Max movies. At least it appears to be from RTFA.
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:55AM (#15147985) Homepage Journal
    Interesting gear, but where do you connect up the telephone and the girl from "Footloose?" []

  • So now some people don't need to eat ginger for combating motion sickness?

  • commercial low-cost VR simulators in the near future

    You know, call it deja vu, but I could *swear* I have heard that exact same phrase used before.


  • > This approach, which relies on visual and auditory illusions,
    > could lead to commercial low-cost VR simulators in the near future."

    Thank god. Now my wife and I can go sit our combined, 500lb.+ asses in the personal, two-person VR simulators in malls without sitting there for a few minutes of nothingness, followed by the door opening, the guy announcing the ride was not working, us walking away, then him starting it up again after we are out of visual range.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.