More Realistic Virtual Reality Can Reduce Motion Sickness

Improving technology for a better user experience.
Marsha Lewis, Contributing Producer

(Inside Science TV) -- We have HD, 3-D and we even have virtual reality. The virtual reality we have today is pretty amazing … but now researchers are working to make it even better with a new and improved version.

Put on a headset and you will be transported into a whole new world.

"People usually consider virtual reality for gaming and for movies, but I believe it's an entirely new medium. It's not like going from a television to a bigger television. It's more like going from radio to television," said Gordon Wetzstein, an electrical engineer at Stanford University in California.

"Virtual reality is a technology that allows you to immerse yourself completely in a computer-generated environment," he said.

Virtual reality began with the invention of the stereoscope? Add HD video, digital displays and computer graphics and you have the basics of today's virtual reality. But in just a few years it could be replaced entirely with a light field stereoscope. This new device better imitates how your eyes see.

"What it actually allows you to do is focus anywhere in the screen like you do in the real world," said Wetzstein.

Current virtual reality headsets can cause some people to get headaches or nausea. 

"It's very similar to motion sickness," he explained.

The next generation of virtual reality headsets, developed at Stanford University, may eliminate motion sickness for some users. The new virtual reality lets your eyes focus on multiple images. Creating a more natural depth of field builds a type of hologram for each eye, which gives you a more natural experience.

"We work with 50 different images right now. So instead of working with one image per eye, we actually show 25 images per eye into the same pupil," Wetzstein said.

For things like a lengthy robotic surgery – the new headset could help reduce eye strain on doctors during a procedure.

From surgery and entertainment to therapy and hands-on training.

"We can immerse a person or child in an environment and really show them how things work in a hands on manner that transports the person into this environment. It allows us to get a better sense of stuff and how stuff works," he said.


Author Bio & Story Archive

Marsha Lewis is a freelance producer based in California.  She has won 11 National Telly Awards and nine Regional Emmy Awards for her work in local and national syndicated news.

I’ve dedicated my time to reporting and producing stories focused on medical, science and technology. I created a nationally award winning series dedicated to promoting women and their great accomplishments.  Now I’ve taken that expertise outside the traditional TV news format and broadened the viewership to people around the world.