Yes, cybersickness… or visually induced motion sickness – is real.
Think of it as two worlds colliding into a small space.
Or a mismatched battle of our senses.
This type of motion sickness involves moving digital content. It happens as our bodies create what it feels is a perfectly natural response… within an unnatural environment. Some describe a sense of wooziness because our sense of balance reacts differently from how other senses are processing. And in this case, none are in agreement with the messages they’re sending to the brain. You may “not quite feel like yourself.” It may feel like a dull headache. Cybersickness can also cause the feeling of dizziness and nausea.
So when is cybersickness most likely to happen? For some, it may occur when surfing or scrolling rapidly on a smart phone. For others, it may be a sudden onset while watching spinning or motion scenes onscreen within a movie theater. The projection may be 3-D, traditional 2-D or IMAX® screen format. And gamers often discover that the computer-generated virtual reality experience provided by goggles can create that imbalance between what our senses feel — and how our brain signals the body otherwise.
So with two worlds colliding, the mismatched battle of our senses occurs, which is different than traditional motion sickness. We feel motion sickness because our inner ear, muscles and joints feel movement, yet we do not see it with our eyes. But with digital motion sickness, the opposite happens: we actually see the movement – but we don’t feel it. Both provide the same effect – that queasy, uneasy feeling.
Cyriel Diels, a cognitive psychologist and human factors researcher at Coventry University’s Center for Mobility and Transport calls it the tech industry’s ‘dirty little secret’. To learn more about cybersickness, read this article on New York Times.