Exploring Motion Sickness Mitigations for Mixed Reality Passenger Experiences

University of Glasgow researchers, Dr Mark McGill (Computing Science), Katharina Pöhlmann (Computing Science), Professor Frank Pollick (Psychology) have partnered with Professor Frans Verstaten (Head of Psychology) from the University of Sydney to co-produce the project, ‘Exploring Motion Sickness Mitigations for Mixed Reality’. The Glasgow-Sydney partnership collaboration was awarded £7,000 to support the project from October 2020 to July 2021.

Objectives of the project

Motion sickness is in-part ascribed to a sensory mismatch between what motion we visually perceive, and how that motion is sensed by the vestibular system (the apparatus of the inner ear involved in balance). For example, when reading a book whilst in a car, our visual system focuses on the stable book and car interior, whilst our vestibular system senses rotational and linear accelerations as the vehicle moves - this conflict can contribute to motion sickness.

Mixed (Virtual and Augmented) Reality headsets have the capacity to completely control what we visually perceive, and consequently could play a significant role in resolving sensory mismatches for passengers. The reduction of motion sickness is key to promoting a positive experience whilst travelling. This project hopes to enable passengers to utilize their travel time more effectively e.g., enabling richer productivity and entertainment experiences for passengers in autonomous vehicles, trains and other methods of transportation.

The impact

This project brought together expertise in visual perception and mixed reality across UofG and USyd, with the aim of facilitating initial explorations of the capacity of Mixed Reality headsets to resolve this sensory mismatch for passengers. 

This funding supported two summer students based in UoG to: 

  • Develop an interface for controlling a rotational motion platform from a VR headset, enabling simulation of passenger experiences in the lab. This enhanced UoGs capacity to perform motion sickness-related research, particularly given Covid-19 restrictions around the sharing of cars limited the team’s ability to assess motion sickness countermeasures. 
  • Conduct an initial study into how visual peripheral motion cues delivered via a VR headset can be used to resolve sensory mismatch.   

Whilst this project is currently on-going, our researchers believe there is significant promise in utilizing mid-peripheral visual cues to convey motion to passengers.