The Effects of Rest Frames on Simulator Sickness Reduction

2017, Regis Kopper, Ph.D. Zekun Cao

Master’s Student Zekun Cao is currently working on a project that addresses simulator sickness, a very common problem with virtual reality. Virtual Reality sickness occurs, like most forms of motion sickness when, visual, vestibular (inner ear), and muscular cues do not match up the way they normally would in the real world. Take a flight simulator, for example. While flying an actual plane, a person would feel and see the plane turning, rolling and pitching and his/her muscle would react to the movement accordingly. In Virtual Reality the only sensory input received is visual and this separation between what is felt and what is seen is what makes users sick. This project researches the effects of rest frames on simulator sickness reduction. In Zekun’s model, the rest frame takes the form of a mask that appears in the user’s field of view. Having this fixed reference point was hypothesized to help users cope with simulator sickness, and was proven effective through a user study. Participants were asked to complete 6 laps of a circle in a simulated environment and were asked to submit a sickness evaluation from 1-10 at six different points in the circle. With the rest frame, subjects completed a greater number of laps and submitted lower sickness scores on average.