Skip to main content

Listen up! White noise device may make VR motion sickness a thing of the past

VR Motion Corp/UploadVR

VR Motion Corp. and automotive giant Jaguar Land Rover are both conducting trials a new device which developer Otolith Labs claims could solve the problem of virtual reality motion sickness. The small device, which can be worn on a VR headset headband, transmits a form of white noise to the inner ear, helping it to cope with the occasional disparity found in moving within virtual worlds, while not actually moving in the real world.

VR motion-induced nausea has been a problem for the virtual reality industry since the early days of prototype Oculus headsets. Higher refresh rate screens and motion controllers have done a lot to help our brains come to terms with virtual movements not corresponding to real-world movements —  we experience something similar when traveling in cars or planes. But there are those who are still very susceptible to feeling sick after even brief periods of VR. Otolith Labs’ new technology could change that.

Called the OtoTech, the device generates “virtually silent” vibrations which flood the inner ear with a form of white noise, causing the brain to reject its inputs, making for a more comfortable virtual reality experience. As UploadVR points out, this is a different, and arguably far simpler technique, than one leveraged by galvanic vestibular simulator technology, which can send electrical signals that simulate the direction you’re moving.

Although still in the testing stages, OtoTech is currently undergoing trials by VR training supply firm VR Motion. Typically, between 20 and 30 percent of its users experience some form of nausea while in VR, but Otolith claims that its device improves that. The firm has yet to say by how much, however, suggesting that it would want to wait for the device to receive FDA approval before giving any more of an endorsement.

Jaguar Land Rover conducted its own double-blind study using the device and claimed that the results were positive, though it too has yet to release any specific findings to back up these statements.

Otolith reportedly works equally effectively in seated, standing, and roomscale experiences. If and when it receives FDA approval, it could be turned into a consumer product or incorporated into future virtual reality headset designs.

Other attempts to fix motion sickness in VR have met with mixed success, so a blanket solution that works in all use cases would be a welcome addition to the VR accessory marketplace.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
HTC offers cheaper Vive Pro Eye bundles, expands eye-tracking in VR
HTC Vive Pro Eye virtual reality headset

HTC is expanding its push into enterprise virtual reality solutions by launching several new bundles in the Vive Pro Eye family. Both new bundles come packaged with HTC's Vive Pro Eye, which boasts to be the first virtual reality headset that comes with built-in eye tracking technology.

However, enterprise users who just want the VR headset without buying a bundle can grab the Vive Pro Eye at its new lower price of $1,399, HTC announced. This represents a savings of $200 from the original $1,599 price.

Read more
With new swappable faceplates, the Vive Cosmos is now a modular VR platform
HTC Vive Cosmos

After having debuted the HTC Cosmos late last year with an innovative flip-up display to switch between the virtual and real worlds, HTC is expanding its Vive Cosmos series in a surprising new way. Faceplates with different features that can be upgraded to or purchased with the Cosmos.

The star of the show remains the different experiences you gain when adding HTC's unique and modular faceplates. This allows users to grow with their Vive Cosmos investment by being able swap faceplates to gain new functionality in the future.

Read more
Why confidence in VR is rising — and Oculus Quest is to thank
Oculus Quest full

Hand Tracking on Oculus Quest | Oculus Connect 6

Virtual reality has remained a relatively small niche in video game development despite the innovations made by products like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. But it isn't down and out just yet, as the stand-alone Oculus Quest headset reinvigorates developers' passion.

Read more