Virtual reality is the latest upgrade to the user interface that takes us beyond the world of 2-dimensional images. Its interactivity makes it a lot more user-friendly than a regular 3D movie. In simple words, virtual reality is a simulated world that happens because of the images and sounds created by a computer.
As a concept, virtual reality is fairly old. But in practicality, VR achieved its goal of tricking your brain only in the last few years. And there are consequences for such actions.
How does virtual reality trick your brain?
VR can be experienced by putting on a virtual reality headset and connecting it to a source of images and sounds. The headset blocks your eyes completely from the outside light and the VR software projects images corresponding to the user’s head position. If he turns left, he will see the images on the left and so on.
The lag between the user turning his head and the image changing is very low (<50 milliseconds). This tricks your brain into believing that you are in the simulated world, in the absence of any other visual stimuli. The headset usually has the 3D surround sound effect to enhance the visual cues.
But the human brain uses multiple senses to determine its balance. The inner ear is one such a sensor. VR simulations do not fool the inner ear and so it keeps on sending conflicting signals to the brain about balance and movement. This conflict causes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, tiredness etc in VR users. In addition, VR game design also has an impact on the VR users. A well-designed experience minimises the side effects like nausea and vertigo. In almost all cases, these symptoms vanish once you take off your headset.
After a few minutes, your brain gets used to the old signals and is back to its normal condition.