Dr. Jonathan Kelly receives NSF grant to study cybersickness

CATEGORIES: Research News

Jonathan Kelly, professor of psychology, has received a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. With collaborators Stephen Gilbert and Michael Dorneich (industrial and manufacturing systems engineering), the team will study cybersickness, or motion sickness caused by virtual reality. The grant will fund their research through 2026.

Project title: Understanding Situational and Individual Factors in Adaptation to Cybersickness

Project description: One barrier to virtual reality (VR) playing a central role in the future of work, education, and entertainment is the fact that many VR users experience cybersickness. Symptoms of cybersickness are similar to those of motion sickness, and often include nausea, sweating, dizziness, headache, and eyestrain. Cybersickness can affect more than half of VR users within just 10 minutes of exposure, depending on details of the VR experience. Such a high rate of cybersickness will limit the accessibility of VR and its many applications, especially for the most susceptible people. However, people can adapt through repeated experiences with VR to reduce cybersickness symptoms over time. For instance, a person who is susceptible to cybersickness could experience a VR application (for example, an entertainment application) that gently exposes them to cybersickness over a short period of time so that they can later experience VR applications (for example, a job training application) without sickness. But questions remain. How much adaptation is needed? How sick do people have to be before they adapt? How does this vary by software application or by person? This project uses multi-day adaptation studies to explore whether the ideal scenario is plausible and what roadblocks exist.