Motion sickness is caused by the juxtaposition between what you’re feeling and what your eyes are telling you you should feel. For example, sitting inside of a rocking boat when your eyes tell you that you shouldn’t be moving. The opposite situation has the same effect for many people when they wear a virtual reality headset. Their eyes tell them they should feel movement, but they don’t. That can cause intense nausea in some people, which is why MIT’s Media Lab has developed the MoveU device that makes you feel the movement in virtual reality.
The MoveU device is intended to correct discrepancies in your proprioception, which is your subconscious awareness of your body’s position and movement. It does that by using a small amount of electrical current to stimulate your vestibular system, specifically your inner ear that gives you your sense of balance. The technique is called galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS), and has been used in scientific medical research for more than a century. MoveU takes the well-known GVS technique and puts it to use to reduce cybersickness and improve virtual reality immersion.
The device itself is a small headset that is designed to be worn with a typical virtual reality headset. Electrodes are placed on the mastoids behind each of the wearer’s ears. The computer or video game console running the virtual reality game would send information to MoveU’s microcontroller about what movement the wearer’s avatar is experiencing. The MoveU would then use that information to determine how to stimulate the vestibular system in order to reproduce those feelings of movement. The result is that what you’re seeing and what you’re feeling match up, and that could dramatically improve the overall virtual reality experience.