Cyberkinetosis in virtual reality, what is it?

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What is cyberkinetosis?

Cyberkinetosis is a pathology similar to motion sickness, caused by overexposure to screens and technology in general. Originally caused by wearing virtual reality headsets, this pathology now extends to any prolonged exposure and isolation associated with screens, tablets, smartphones, video games, headsets and virtual stimulation technologies of all kinds.

The symptoms are similar to those of motion sickness and inner ear disorders: visual perception disorders, discomfort, sweating, drowsiness, migraine, nausea, dizziness or eye strain, which then causes a visu-vestibular conflict (i.e., sensorimotor incoherence caused by the perception of contradictory information from the visual system on the one hand and the vestibular system on the other). Put more simply, the use of virtual reality can cause a conflict between the senses, which leads to all sorts of neurophysiological disturbances for the user.

Approximately 20% of people are prone to travel sickness and therefore, by definition, to cyberkinetosis.

How to avoid it with virtual reality headsets?

To avoid taking health risks, ANSES has drafted "a good practice guide" to reduce cyber ketosis :

  • Stop using the VR headset as soon as symptoms appear
  • Rest one to two hours after the session
  • Avoid exposure to screens 2 hours before bedtime
  • Limit or avoid use for sensitive individuals (pregnant women, people with epilepsy, people suffering from motion sickness or prone to migraines).

On the other hand, the designers of virtual reality software have their share of responsibility! Indeed, the graphics of virtual worlds must be designed and developed in such a way that the delay in the sensory-motor loop (between the moment when we move our head and the moment when the image inside the helmet is updated) is as short as possible so as not to disturb the user.

Finally, the phenomenon of cyberkinesis is all the more important in "moving" virtual worlds, such as in a roller coaster experience in VR!  

At H'ability, we develop our exercises and worlds so that cyber kinetosis is non-existent. We work on high performance VR headsets, we optimize 3D graphics and our exercises do not require any movement in virtual worlds.  

As a practical aspect in internal development, we have one of the two co-founders who is prone to cyber ketosis and who serves as our guinea pig to test if our experiments are validated "zero cyber ketosis"! (We'll let you guess which one 😉 )

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