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Virtual Reality Gets Comfy

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the i'll-take-a-test-unit-or-two dept.

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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27 comments

Limitations (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 years ago | (#15147266)

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 [wikipedia.org] in his novel Snow Crash [amazon.com] is that it's got a futuristic way of logging on--a beam of light focused right on the eye makes the user feel that he's immersed in a different world--but at the same time recognises that the experience is still very much virtual due to limitations of sensation.

Re:Limitations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15148768)

Slow, repetitive sensations (such as water falling on you in the shower) help you imagine. Not sure if slashdot is the place to get into this kind of discussion, but some psychedelic plants, when consumed, provide this feeling and if you pay attention you would realize that the feeling of a constant moving sensation is what lets your mind truly shift its focus away from reality. That feeling you get in your stomach when you are falling, people have been using it for thousands of years in mediation. While virtual reality is an inevitability, I seriously think that there must be some way to harness the 'virtual reality' that already exists in us all.

Re:Limitations (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 8 years ago | (#15155752)

...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 (5, Informative)

JehCt (879940) | about 8 years ago | (#15147276)

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.

Re:Motion Sickness (1)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | about 8 years ago | (#15147530)

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 to realise what's going on, is it not a reasonable assumption that it may fare better with some deprivations than with others?

For example, what if 30 percent of people got travel sickness, but only 5 percent of people got VR-sickness? Or would the numbers be more closely tied, or even opposite? We all know that some people do get sick from playing FPS games (so its safe to assume that they'd do as bad or worse in VR) but exactly what kind of proportion are they representing?

Is there anybody out there who's never felt sick on a train or boat but couldn't handle a headset VR environment?

Re:Motion Sickness (2, Informative)

smallfries (601545) | about 8 years ago | (#15148094)

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 write a game on the motion pod as their project. Most are pretty good, but you should see the colour the guys turn when they are debugging them.

The effect that the article is talking about is different. The analogy that the speaker at APGV used last year is when you are sitting on a train. If the train is stationary but another train moves in the opposite direction it feels (physically) as if you are moving. This is a perceptual illusion, and the project uses these types of illusion to make you feel as if you are moving, when in fact you are not.

So what you are calling VR sickness (no motion) isn't actually true of VR, but may be true in this case (if it is installed in a cabinet rather than a headset).

Re:Motion Sickness (1)

Enigma_Man (756516) | about 8 years ago | (#15148593)

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 the visual. I can go on any amusement park ride; gyroscopes, rollercoasters, turkish-twist; but those things like the Back-to-the-Future rides make me want to vomit almost immediately. I have to face away from the screen and look at the floor, or wall, or something that isn't part of the visuals, and actually does match up with what I feel. Also, reading in a moving vehicle almost immediately makes me want to hurl.

-Jesse

Re:Motion Sickness (1)

BennyB2k4 (799512) | about 8 years ago | (#15147842)

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 do some fun drifting in the parking lot and could only last about a minute before getting too dizzy to carry on.

William Gibbson / Otherland (2)

Hyperhaplo (575219) | about 8 years ago | (#15147296)

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).

Re:William Gibbson / Otherland (1)

Grab (126025) | about 8 years ago | (#15153256)

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.

Grab.

Re:William Gibbson / Otherland (1)

Hyperhaplo (575219) | about 8 years ago | (#15155307)

You do have an on-topic point there: What happens to humans when we use advanced technology?

Right now people are trialling mobile phones to see if they damage our ears or brains. We quite possibly could be mutated by the radiation emmited by all of this technology - even by what we use right now (do NOT use a Nokia 5110 for more than a 10 minute conversation!). Who knows what future devices will do to us.

- Going on with the book - Yes, I agree, it was a rather weak conclusion to a rather excellent series. I was really hoping for a tighter ending. You could see a lot of it coming, including the Orlando Incident.. but I can't fault the author. I think he was searching for a 'nice' way to tie up all of the plot threads and bring them together.

In terms of how he represented the 'net: I really like the news exerpts and extra details. Sometimes it is the scenery that makes the story far more immersable. I see how Second Life could be the start of the 'net as he saw it. The only difference is that they have Nodes they cross; otherwise it's basically there - you just need the VR immersion now :)

Low-cost? (2, Insightful)

DrMrLordX (559371) | about 8 years ago | (#15147328)

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 be said of modern eye-candy video games. I suppose the difference is that VR games cost more.

Re:Low-cost? (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | about 8 years ago | (#15147335)

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.

I've really been waiting for that (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#15147381)

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.

Re:I've really been waiting for that (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#15147541)

I didn't know there were stationary sound sources up in the sky like fountains and church bells.

I liked this technology better the first time... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15147404)

When it was called "Star Tours" [go.com] at Disneyland.

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

Re:I liked this technology better the first time.. (1)

punkrider (176796) | about 8 years ago | (#15150965)

I took my neice to Disneyland this past weekend. This ride was sweet, as was the Flying over California @ California Adventure. Think flying seats *literally* 30 ft above the ground completely immersed in an IMAX screen. So much fun. My new fav ride.

Simulation, NOT VR (3, Interesting)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about 8 years ago | (#15147492)

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.

Doom Simulation, NOT VR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15147973)

"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."

Still useful though. Say you could have a Doom overlay were you shoot the contents of your room.

sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15147599)

Fuck you, Scuttlemonkey.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15147737)

Fuck you, Scuttlemonkey.

but Roland didn't link his own blog, he linked to the actual article. OK, it's still Roland, but at least he's playing nice now. What's wrong?

A million little promises (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 8 years ago | (#15151985)

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.

-Eric

No, the cat does not "got my tongue." (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 years ago | (#15153097)

> 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.

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