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Computer games vs. motion sickness. (News & Notes).

No one is certain that playing virtual reality computer games can fight real-world motion sickness, say, from the rocking of an actual boat, but a group of British researchers aims to find out.

Motion sickness can be overcome by subjecting a person to real motion at frequent and regular intervals, and VR sickness by getting them used to virtual movement, but a crossover is the subject of study by scientists at Loughborough University in Loughborough, England.

"This phenomenon of the body becoming resistant to motion sickness is called habituation," said Peter Howarth, who is leading the research at the university's department of human sciences. "We've shown in earlier studies that habituation also occurs in virtual environments. If someone is repeatedly exposed to the appearance of motion, they get used to it and no longer feel queasy."

If habituation is transferable to real motion from virtual, play may help those who suffer from motion sickness while traveling, Howarth said.

"It could be that if people play these types of computer games at home and habituate to the appearance of motion, they'll experience less motion sickness in the real world," he said.

The researchers will recruit about 200 volunteers to wear head-mounted displays and play a virtual racing--car game for 20 minutes at a time. Throughout the period, they'll report on how they're feeling.

That data will be compared with statistics on habituation for real motion, for which a large body of information already exists.

"We would propose to habituate our volunteers to the virtual environment and then expose them to real motion to see if they cope better than people who have received no virtual habituation," Howarth said.

The research is being carried out with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in Swindon, England. The council supports research and related postgraduate training in engineering and the physical sciences.

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Comment:Computer games vs. motion sickness. (News & Notes).
Author:Thilmany, Jean
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 1, 2002
Words:310
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