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Oculus Rift is working to solve simulator sickness

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Simulation sickness, a condition similar to motion sickness, is one of the biggest problems for both hardware and software developers on the Oculus Rift; however, according to the virtual reality system's VP of products, Nate Mitchell, the team is working to solve this.

Drawing parallels to motion sickness, Mitchell describes simulator sickness as its inverse. "In motion sickness there's all this motion but you don't visually perceive the walls and ceilings are moving," he said during a talk at GDC Europe 2013. "This is what creates the conflict that makes you dizzy.

"With simulator sickness it's basically the inverse. These are all the things you want to avoid as game developers."

Both forms of sickness are largely misunderstood within the medical community, with differing opinions about where these conditions come from and what solutions are available.

With no widely accepted notion on hand, the developers behind Oculus Rift are working to research solutions first-hand. "VR systems still have a long way to go here," Mitchell says. "But this is the sort of thing developers like Oculus need to make."

Mitchell lists a number of scenarios that contribute to simulator sickness, which he categorizes as locomotion and lateral movement. This includes backwards or quick lateral movement, changes in altitude like staircases, minimal shifts to the horizon line, and head bob; although it's worth noting the team is still debating over whether head bobbing provides problems.

"I'm of the opinion that head bob is not for us," said Mitchell, "but it needs more research."

"It's really this thing that we can't tap into," he added, highlighting the issues caused by this condition, "but over time we will see less and less simulator sickness."