I’m sick of hearing about VR sickness

Posted: 03.30.16

Minorities aren’t going to determine this market

I remember when we were trying to get people interested in stereo 3D (S3D) and all we heard about was, “I’m not wearing those goofy glasses.” Right, except when I go to the movies, somehow that was and is different. And do you remember during those heady days of renewed enthusiasm for stereo 3D movies, all the discussion about the percentage of the population that just can’t perceive 3D? Probably not—you were too busy being indignant about the glasses. 

I also remember, he said showing his age, when color monitors were introduced and the push-back by users and PC makers was, “What do we need color for?” And, those of you alive then, do you remember the discussion about how many people were color blind? No, I didn’t think so. 

Then we had the refresh alarm. If a monitor isn’t refreshed at greater than 60 Hz, users will get fatigued, dizzy, and disoriented. Laws were even passed in Europe. And even though the main specifications in most of Europe and parts of South America are only 50 Hz, somehow TV flicker was acceptable but PCs weren’t. Maybe it was that magic phosphor persistence. 

Then we were introduced to carpal tunnel syndrome, a malady caused by using a mouse. Prior to that epidemic, none of us even knew we had a carpal, let alone where it was. That seems to have been magically cured, too. Perhaps it has something to do with sun spots. 

So now our current anxiety is all about VR sickness. VR will never succeed because it makes people sick. Really. I guess air travel, roller-coasters, and sailboats will never catch on, either, because they make people sick. 

The point is that there is a distribution. Some percentage of the population can’t see 3D or color, gets fatigued by low refresh rates, has weak carpals, and gets motion sickness. Some, not everyone, just a small percentage. 

Motion sickness can in some people be overcome, and so can VR sickness. 

Sure, it needs to be said that content developers have to have some sense and talent so they don’t design apps that make people sick. There definitely needs to be education about how the brain and the stomach work together in VR, but a well-designed app shouldn’t make most people sick any more than a well-crafted stereo 3D movie won’t make most people sick. 
And there is going to be a percentage of the market that is affected by VR movement. So to those people I say, don’t go there. 

But just because you get motion sickness doesn’t mean you’re not going sailing, riding a roller-coaster, or driving on windy roads—at least that’s true for most of us. 
Or, as my kids used to say, get over yourself.