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Researchers at Purdue University believe that rendering a virtual nose in your first-person virtual reality game can help extend the amount of time people can play it without feeling sick.
As goofy as it sounds, this is a notable piece of information for VR-minded developers because VR-induced nausea is one of the platform's primary drawbacks.
Now a group of student researchers studying the issue under Purdue assistant professor (and Game Innovation Laboratory director) Dr. David Whittinghill have found a game design trick that can help -- rendering a virtual human nose in the center of someone's first-person perspective.
"Our suspicion is that you have this stable object that your body is accustomed to tuning out, but it's still there and your sensory system knows it," Dr. Whittinghill said in a Purdue press release announcing that test subjects in the study (which is still ongoing) were able to comfortably remain in a VR rollercoaster demo for an average of 2.2 seconds longer when they had a virtual nose.
Adding the same nose to a VR demo that allowed subjects to explore a Tuscan villa helped them stay within the simulation for an average of 94.2 seconds longer before feeling ill.
"The roller coaster demo is short, but it's very intense...so people can't do it very long under the best of circumstances. We had a reliable increase of 2 seconds, and it was a very clear trend," said Dr. Whittinghill. "For the Tuscany demo it takes more time, but eventually you start getting queasy, and 94 seconds is a huge improvement."
More comments from Dr. Whittinghill and an abstract of his team's "Nasum Virtualis: A Simple Technique for Reducing Simulator Sickness" study can be found over on the Purdue University news page.