These CEOs and tech idiots who talk about attending business meetings in virtual reality are completely out of touch with what you really expect from virtual reality: games and adventures you can’t experience in real life. Huh. That means swimming through space, zooming in on a military-grade jet, shooting down zombies and, of course, riding a nightmare roller coaster.
Unfortunately, our vulnerable human minds are susceptible to motion sickness, especially in fast-moving or anti-physics virtual reality environments. But there may be a simple and inexpensive solution to help you enjoy virtual reality without wasting your lunch. And no, I’m not talking about drugs; I’m talking about glue.
In a recently published study, German researchers found that chewing gum can reduce or prevent vision-induced motion sickness while wearing a VR headset.
The researchers divided 77 test subjects into three groups; One with peppermint gum, one with ginger gum, and one without gum. When these subjects were sent by helicopter into virtual reality, those with gum reported fewer symptoms of motion sickness than those without gum.
And strangely enough, test subjects reported fewer symptoms when they appreciated the taste of the gum they were chewing. Researchers can use this information to theorize that good taste, not just the act of chewing, can reduce symptoms of visibly induced motion sickness.
The science behind these findings is still a little unclear: Do our inner ears ignore scary cues from our visual cortex when we chew gum? Or are our brains so weak that a tasty treat can stop motion sickness? Either way, the next time you put on a VR headset, I suggest chewing on spearmint gum, not ginger gum.
In a study published in Experimental Brain Research, researchers found that users would experience less motion sickness when they chewed flavored gum if they were using head-mounted VR. The study involved 77 adults, each of whom received a 15-minute VR experience showing a simulated search and rescue helicopter flight. One group of subjects was given peppermint gum, another group was given ginger-flavored gum, while a control group was given no gum.
VR is becoming increasingly popular, especially with the ever-improving technology. VR headsets such as the PSVR, Valve Index, HTC Vive and Oculus Quest mean more selection for consumers, making virtual reality technology, and VR games in particular, more mainstream than ever before.
But one problem for many users is VR motion sickness, which has been a nuisance for some time. It also has a proper name: visibly induced motion sickness, or VIMS, and is sometimes referred to as ‘cybersickness’. However, new research is proposing a new solution to the issue.
It was found that those who chewed chewing gum while “in flight” in the VR experience reported much lower peak sickness scores – while those who subjectively reported pleasant feelings with better tasting gum. , they experienced similar mild VIMS symptoms. This means that it may work better with your favorite gum flavor, rather than a less preferred flavor.
Motion sickness is caused by a mismatch between signals from your eyes that tell motion to the brain, and your vestibular system, which tracks head movement, which usually remains stationary in cars or when using VR. If these two systems do not align, it can lead to nausea.
Chewing gum stimulates the mastoid area, which lies below and behind the ear, and this can lead to depressurization of vestibular signals by the brain. In other words, chewing gum may trick the brain into prioritizing signals coming from the eyes, rather than focusing on conflicts in cues, resulting in lower VIMS. Anyway, as science writer Emma Young summed up, that’s the theory, but other studies have found support for it.
Now, the taste of the gum may be important, but the physical act of chewing can play a major role as well. Unfortunately, however, the research team did not include a test group that was given flavorless gum to chew, so we don’t know how much of the VIMS deficiency is due to the taste or physical chewing of the gum. This. Still, flavored chewing gum is widely available, so it’s not exactly hard to get hold of and try.
So, the next time you feel nauseous while putting on a VR headset, why not put a piece of gum in your mouth to chew and chew it. This can be an inexpensive and convenient way to reduce motion sickness. Just make sure it tastes good to make it more likely to help. Those who wish to read the paper outlining the research can find it here.