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'Virtual nose' makes VR less dizzying, say boffins

Your nose is going to be three foot wide across your face by the time I'm finished with you

A Purdue University undergraduate has picked a way to stop virtual reality inducing motion sickness: program in a virtual nose.

Assistant professor David Whittinghill says “Simulator sickness is very common” and occurs because “your perceptual system does not like it when the motion of your body and your visual system are out of synch. So if you see motion in your field of view you expect to be moving, and if you have motion in your eyes without motion in your vestibular system you get sick."

Fixed-reference objects help to stop the sickness, Whittinghill says, but not every simulation lends itself to the inclusion of something like the window frames in a cockpit to give the brain something to latch onto.

While discussing this problem, undergraduate Bradley Ziegler piped up with the idea of programming in a virtual nose. The idea is that we're all used to our hooters haunting our field of vision, so much so that we take it for granted that it's always possible to see a slice of schnoz.

Whittinghill and students therefore coded a nose into a roller coaster simulator (depicted above) sent test subjects for a ride with or without the pretend proboscis and found those who rode with notional nostrils reported feeling less ill after the coaster came to a halt.

Whittinghill now feels the idea of nasal nuances being an important part of visual perception 's'not trivial and is worth picking up in future research.

The work was presented at the recent GDC 15 conference in a talk titled “Nasum Virtualis: A Simple Technique for Reducing Simulator Sickness”. ®

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