The emerging world of virtual reality is not only providing a new, fully immersive gaming experience, but creating new ways for people to see the world. Whether it’s a virtual reality airlines out of Japan or a way to bring excitement to exercise, people are finding innovative and exciting ways to use the technology.
The problem, however, is that we don’t know its long-term effects on either the body or the mind. We are in a wait-and-see situation. That’s frightening, but we are also in a similar situation with smartphones, so what can you do?
We can, though, see some of the short-term effects relatively easily, and over at Business Insider, they had an interesting article about just that. The results, while unpleasant, are nothing to insane or unexpected–it’s kind of just what you would think it would be. The fix for most of them are simply taking breaks from your VR system.
Here is a recap of what those effects are:
Loss of Spatial Awareness
This one is super obvious and seems a simple fix: just be aware of the space around you before you put on the goggles. The problem is, however, that once you’ve been in VR for to long (more than 30 minutes), a lot of people tend to forget about these little objects that might cause them to fall over or wack a hand against a ceiling fan. Out of sight, out of mind, sort of thing.
Dizziness and Disorientation
This is going to vary, just as it would with any sort of anything in life. People prone to motion sickness and veritgo are not going to be on a good foundation going into the world of VR, but even if you aren’t prone to these unpleasantries, they might still come about if you are in VR too long. If you do find yourself feeling under the weather, simply take off your headset.
If you are prone to seizures then you should probably just stay away because the technology may invoke a response. The average person, however, who doesn’t suffer from epileptic conditions, doesn’t need to worry–at least as far as current experiences are concerned, though there have been cases of it happening.
“Cybersickness” is supposedly super common with the technology. Cybersickness, as explained in a New York Times Article is
“In traditional motion sickness, the mismatch occurs because you feel movement in your muscles and joints as well as in the intricate coils of your inner ear, but you do not see it. That is why getting up on the deck of a ship and looking at the horizon helps you feel better. But with digital motion sickness, it is the opposite. You see movement — like the turns and twists shown in a movie or video game car chase — that you do not feel. The result is the same: You may have sensory conflict that can make you feel queasy.”
Just as watching too much television or staring at a computer screen, short-term eye strain is normal in VR. However, tweaking the settings in your system can help alleviate this problem. As far as long term effects on vision go, the the technology just hasn’t been around long enough to see any significant results.
See, nothing too crazy. But definitely something to have some awareness of before you jump into augmented reality. If you are thinking of spending more than 36 hours in VR to prove that worse s**t can happen, someone beat you to it. Last year, Jack McNee spent a world-record breaking 36 hours in VR (for those wondering, going to the bathroom still needs to take place in the real world) and he is doing okay with no significant problems.
With technology encroaching on nearly every aspect of life, a literal “virtual reality” replacing the real reality seems more and more likely. The fact is, we don’t know where the technology is headed and probably won’t know until we get there.
One of the negatives that we can seen, though, is that, should you fail miserably while using VR and someone films it, you may become part of a fail compilation on youtube. Fail compilations are forever. But that’s not all that bad. It makes the rest of us happy.
Cover Photo by Eddie Kopp
Red VR Photo by Samuel Zeller
VR Painter by Billetto Editorial