Researchers are measuring 'cyber sickness' by recording brainwaves, a study finds

Jul, 2021 - By WMR

Researchers are measuring 'cyber sickness' by recording brainwaves, a study finds

The Maryland University team used electroencephalography (EEG) in a first-of-its-kind study to better understand and work toward remedies for virtual reality induced discomfort.

If the people ever felt nauseous or disoriented while in a virtual environment, one must have experienced cyber sickness. For 30% to 80% of virtual reality users, the intensity of the experience, whether it's standing on the advantage of a Yosemite waterfall or engaged in combat of tank with their friends, creates a stomach-churning problem. This type of research were conducted by the professor of computer science named Eric Krokos who is also a Ph.D. holder in computer science.

The term cyber sickness is derived from motion sickness, however instead of physical movement, physical symptoms such as nausea and disorientation are triggered by the sense of movement in a virtual world. While there are various ideas as to why it happens, the lack of a systematic, quantifiable method of investigating cyber sickness has stymied progress that may help make virtual reality more accessible to a wider audience.

Krokos is the first to employ EEG to assess and quantify cyber sickness in virtual reality users. EEG measures activity of the brain over sensors on the scalp. They were able to establish a link between the recorded brain activity and the subjects' self-reported symptoms.

The first step in interactively characterising and mitigating cyber sickness, as well as improving the VR experience for everyone, is for the researcher to establish a robust correlation between cyber sickness and EEG-measured brain activity.

Although EEG headsets have been widely used to measure motion sickness, previous cyber sickness research relied on users accurately recalling their symptoms through questionnaires filled out after they had removed their headsets and exited the immersive environment.

According to the researchers, such methods only provide qualitative data, making it difficult to determine which movements or qualities of the virtual environment are influencing users in real time. Another problem is that not everyone who gets cyber sickness has the same physical symptoms, and cyber sickness may not be the only cause of these symptoms.


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