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Easy Queasy: 6 Ways to Avoid Making Your Audience Sick in VR

Easy Queasy: 6 Ways to Avoid Making Your Audience Sick in VR

By Bill West, President, Regatta VR (

Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting addition to the e-learning family, but the enthusiasm can wear off if your users feel queasy while using it. One of the biggest challenges for VR is to create a realistic experience while keeping the user comfortable. Here are six ways you can do just that:

Mobility: The environment’s movement relative to the user defines comfort. Think of a planetarium. It surrounds you like a VR environment surrounds you. As you walk about, the shell remains in the same place. How would it feel if the entire shell moved while you moved? Pretty odd.

Focus and placement of the camera: Camera placement is the largest contributor to poor VR design. The camera has certain fixed points where the image is clearest. If the actors/objects are too close or too far, then the user’s ability to focus will be strained and cause fatigue. The worst violation is camera height. If you’re building VR, take the time to test varying camera heights and their resulting vantage point. When in doubt, lower the camera, then lower it again.

Position of objects and graphics: Artificial objects in the environment, such as menus, Q&A boxes, or navigational objects, should remain in the same place in the environment. Let’s say the environment is a room with a door in front of the viewer. If you place an interface button over the door, it should stay over the door, even when the user looks away.

Text and reading: Text is hard to read in VR. Devices are getting better with higher resolutions, but text for any interactive experience should be kept to the minimum. If the VR program involves forms or system screens, then consider blending the program with other modalities, such as a Web course, to present the initial introduction of the forms and systems. Then use the VR for context and usage of these items.

Uninitiated movement and lack of control: Remember our planetarium? What if you stood in one place and the shell started moving? It would be disorienting. Any movement or relocation of the user should be initiated by the user.
Toddler mode: “Toddler mode” refers to your users’ desire to explore the environment fully before engaging in your planned activity. They won’t hear a word you say until they are done investigating the environment. Build toddler moments into every program before the learning begins.