Monday Musings: Experimentation in VR

Blog Posts ,Random Musings ,Virtual Reality
May 16, 2016

Is it weird to introduce a new series during a current series? Welcome to Monday Musings, where today I’m sharing a few notes on some ideas around recording the effects that VR has on me.

I’m playing around with the idea of “N=1”, a recurring blog series where I share some of my weird attempts to self-experiment on things that fascinate me about virtual reality. I’ve written a little bit about some of my weird observations with motion and simulator sickness, and I wanted to use today’s Monday Musing to update on one particular observation that I found previously: my tolerance for physical-world motion sickness is now almost nonexistent.

I very rarely got motion sick / car sick as a child. Extreme boat conditions – yeah, that’d do it. Audio books also seemed to increase the likelihood of feeling nauseated in a car, but for the most part, I’d say that I had an above-average tolerance for motion sickness. Cue virtual reality: at first, I was running my DK 2 off of my MBP laptop, so you can imagine the frame rates and what that looked like. Not terribly pretty.

I never really felt too much simulator sickness though – and over time, my tolerance for VR applications has increased significantly. With the exception of Eve:Valkyrie, I very rarely feel simulator sickness at all in my Vive or CV 1. Yesterday, though, I hopped into an Uber after skipping dinner and immediately had the worst case of motion sickness in my life – and it wasn’t even a particularly rough ride.

The combination of being tired, hungry, and adrenaline filled motivated me to do something that I don’t normally do – as I focused on not vomiting, I counted down the minutes until I got home and had the idea to test my blood sugar levels. I’ve never been so excited to stab myself with a pin before.

As is sometimes the case with science, though, the results weren’t anything special. My blood sugar was exactly normal, which tailored my hypothesis that blood sugar might impact how prone I am to motion or simulator sickness on a given day. Isolating some of the things that may impact how I will feel for a given VR experience is something that I’m really interested in doing, and getting data-driven responses to different factors when I feel motion/simulator sick is going to be a big part of that.

Luckily, the popularity of biometric devices and the growing accessibility of IOT devices is making it easier than ever to track and record data about what we experience and what is going on physiologically in different situations. Testing blood sugar with simulator sickness is just one particular area that I thought about testing – there are other VR-related factors that I’m interested in testing, like pupil dilation before and after a long session in VR, light levels for hand tracking, heart rate – to name just a few.

So that’s the idea behind “N=1”. A quick way to track some of my random experiments and see how I can start tracking things that work for me, in the interest of helping inspire what might help the masses.


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