The rise of digital motion sickness

The rise of digital motion sickness: Video games, 3D films and iOS7 set to make condition the 21st century's biggest occupational disease

Illness is a variation on motion sickness which is caused by gadgets
Displays are now so good at mimicking reality they disorientate the brain
Problem will only get worse as tech gets better, experts say

PUBLISHED: 12:16 EST, 28 September 2013 | UPDATED: 21:38 EST, 29 September 2013

Digitally induced motion sickness caused by iPhones, 3D films and computer games will become the biggest occupational illness of the 21st century, it has been claimed.

Tech experts have identified a variation on the traditional disorientating ailment, called 'simulation sickness' which is caused by looking at a screen rather than travelling in a boat, car or plane.

And they say the problem will only get worse, as gadgets become better at mimicking the real world around us.

Normal motion sickness is triggered when our inner ear senses movement but our eyes don't see any.

Simulation sickness is described as the opposite, we see motion which suggests to the brain that we should be moving, when actually we're stood or sat still.

The phenomena has already been experienced by iPhone users who have downloaded the new IOS7.

The Apple operating system uses a 'parallax' effect in their digital display which is designed to make the phone screen appear more 3D.

Technology which causes images to 'pop out' at the viewer has long been known to cause headaches because our eyes naturally converge to focus on an object moving closer.

But because, in reality, we're still looking at a flat and unmoving surface the eyes are fooled and become strained.

And the bad news for tech fans is that this kind of disorientation is not expected to get better with advancements in technology.

In fact, scientists have predicted that 3D displays and virtual reality gadgets will only get better at copying the real world.

This means that the brain is likely to be tricked more easily, causing more disorientation and more stimulation sickness.

Google's latest gadget, Google Glass, is also expected to affect users who are predisposed to motion sickness.

The hi-tech spectacles which will flash screens, text and pictures into the wearers view has already been identified as problematic because it projects movement into a person's still field of vision.

And it's not just expensive innovations which will cause problems. Nintendo already have consoles with 3D capability such as their portable Nintendo 3DS.

In America, where Google has already tested its new invention, between 25 and forty per cent of the population suffer from motion sickness.

According to tech website Quartz, between 13 per cent and 90 per cent of Americans will be affected by simulation sickness depending on how realistic the gadget they are experiencing is.

Military technology experts are believed to have known about simulation sickness for years after soldiers who use virtual reality training programmes began to suffer.

But there has been no solution identified so far which can 'fix' the disorientation caused by lifelike computer displays.

One company, Oculus, who are pioneers in virtual reality headsets, have been blighted with bad reviews after users said their products made them want to be sick.

The company that makes the gadgets says one issue is that there’s a subtle lag between users’ head movements and what they see in their screens.

They have said that the problem is one which may never go away.


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