Human Factors Study

Cyber sickness in VR

This human factors study was conducted in a team of 10 during my time as a student. We explored how gaming input influences the feeling of discomfort while playing a stereoscopic game in VR.

One of the most common drawbacks of using VR headsets is the so called cyber sickness, also referred to as simulator sickness or VR sickness. There exist a series of theories concerning its occurrence. The Sensory Conflict Theorie may be the most prominent, suggesting that a mismatch between what a person sees interferes with what the vestibular system senses and what the user expects. In this study we examined how different gaming input may reduce or provoke cyber sickness. Our main theory relies on the idea that a digital character rotation may cause less sickness when a real physical rotational movement occurs simultaneously. Following the Sensory Conflict Theory, we suggest that cyber sickness is experienced more often when the physical movement does not correspond to the digital character movement.
To prove our hypotheses we conducted user studies on a wider series of people. A pre-developed VR game was used that required the participants to walk around a virtual environment. While some participants sat on a normal chair, some sat down on office chairs and were asked to rotate physically whenever their character rotated in VR. The input deviced for turning varied in order to set a factorial design. Altogether, four different setups were tested with varying input modalities. The outcome is promising, and a corresponding paper may be released soon.

During the study it was important to treat the test subjects with deep empathy and much care. Sickness is a very sensitive factor to obtain in user tests. We made sure that whoever participated in our tests felt being understood and protected. The delicate matter made me more aware of the important role of the test supervisor. He/she represents an important psychological figure for the test subject and has to act accordingly and with responsibility.
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