Cybersickness Could Spell an Early Death For the Metaverse
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Daily Beast: Luis Eduardo Garrido couldn’t wait to test out his colleague’s newest creation. Garrido, a psychology and methodology researcher at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra in the Dominican Republic, drove two hours between his university’s campuses to try a virtual reality experience that was designed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and different types of phobias. But a couple of minutes after he put on the headset, he could tell something was wrong. “I started feeling bad,” Garrido told The Daily Beast. He was experiencing an unsettling bout of dizziness and nausea. He tried to push through but ultimately had to abort the simulation almost as soon as he started. “Honestly, I don’t think I lasted five minutes trying out the application,” he said.

Garrido had contracted cybersickness, a form of motion sickness that can affect users of VR technology. It was so severe that he worried about his ability to drive home, and it took hours for him to recover from the five-minute simulation. Though motion sickness has afflicted humans for thousands of years, cybersickness is a much newer condition. While this means that many of its causes and symptoms are understood, other basic questions — like how common cybersickness is, and whether there are ways to fully prevent it — are only just starting to be studied. After Garrido’s experience, a colleague told him that only around 2 percent of people feel cybersickness. But at a presentation for prospective students, Garrido watched as volunteers from the audience walked to the front of an auditorium to demo a VR headset — only to return shakily to their seats. “I could see from afar that they were getting sweaty and kind of uncomfortable,” he recalled. “I said to myself, ‘Maybe I’m not the only one.'”

As companies like Meta (nee Facebook) make big bets that augmented reality and virtual reality technology will go mainstream, the tech industry is still trying to figure out how to better recruit users to the metaverse, and get them to stay once there. But experts worry that cybersickness could derail these plans for good unless developers find some remedies soon. “The issue is actually something of a catch-22: In order to make VR more accessible and affordable, companies are making devices smaller and running them on less powerful processors,” adds the report. “But these changes introduce dizzying graphics — which inevitably causes more people to experience cybersickness.”

“At the same time, a growing body of research suggests cybersickness is vastly more pervasive than previously thought — perhaps afflicting more than half of all potential users.” When Garrido conducted his own study of 92 people, the results indicated that more than 65 percent of people experienced symptoms of cybersickness — a sharp contrast to the 2 percent estimate Garrido had been told.

He says that these results should be concerning for developers. “If people have this type of bad experience with something, they’re not going to try it again,” Garrido said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

By admin