On Quora, helmet mounted displays expert Steve Baker talks about the issue of nausea in VR. It’s an excellent post that should cause lots of people within the industry to sit up and take notice. The short of it is VR confuses the brain, contradicting what we feel and see, to the point some people’s automatic response is that they’re hallucinating, and therefore must eject whatever they just ate that poisoned them. In other words, VR makes them sick.
I’m not optimistic much will change. Vestibular conditions through to basic nausea are not very well understood in the tech industry. Engineers and designers are broadly ignorant of any such issues, and companies don’t appear that concerned about taking steps to rectify them. That might sound like hyperbole, but the evidence is everywhere you see an interface that moves. Our Samsung TV’s ‘smart’ screens spin around; my iMac’s full-screen mode slides before my eyes; and countless web pages hurl content about with merry abandon.
Apple seems to have precisely zero interest in addressing motion issues, and yet it is strong on accessibility elsewhere: vision, hearing, motor. And if even Apple doesn’t care enough (bar when there’s bad press, which made the company take notice in iOS 7), how likely is it anyone else will deal with such problems?
At least with VR, you know you’re placing yourself in a situation where you might get sick. You put on a headset. You can prepare yourself. What concerns me more is that extreme motion is becoming ubiquitous, pervading all interfaces, and hardly anyone seems bothered about addressing this. It’s one thing when you can escape, but another when the problem is all around you.