Evaluation of Detecting Cybersickness via VR HMD Positional Measurements Under Realistic Usage Conditions.

PhD Thesis

Merritt, P. 2021. Evaluation of Detecting Cybersickness via VR HMD Positional Measurements Under Realistic Usage Conditions. PhD Thesis https://doi.org/10.48773/9q422
AuthorsMerritt, P.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

With the resurgence of virtual reality, head-mounted displays (VR HMD) technologies since 2015, VR technology is becoming ever more present in people's day-to-day lives. However, one significant barrier to this progress is a condition called cybersickness, a form of motion sickness induced by the usage of VR HMD’s. It is often debilitating to sufferers, resulting in symptoms anywhere from mild discomfort to full-on vomiting. Much research effort focuses on identifying the cause of and solution to this problem, with many studies reporting various factors that influence cybersickness, such as vection and field of view. However, there is often disagreement in these studies' results and comparing the results is often complicated as stimuli used for the experiments vary wildly.
This study theorised that these results' mismatch might partially be down to the different mental loads of these tasks, which may influence cybersickness and stability-based measurement methods such as postural stability captured by the centre of pressure (COP) measurements. One recurring desire in these research projects is the idea of using the HMD device itself to capture the stability of the users head. However, measuring the heads position via the VR HMD is known to have inaccuracies meaning a perfect representation of the heads position cannot be measured.
This research took the HTC Vive headset and used it to capture the head position of multiple subjects experiencing two different VR environments under differing levels of cognitive load. The design of these test environments reflected normal VR usage. This research found that the VR HMD measurements in this scenario may be a suitable proxy for recording instability. However, the underlying method was greatly influenced by other factors, with cognitive load (5.4% instability increase between the low and high load conditions) and test order (2.4% instability decrease between first run and second run conditions) having a more significant impact on the instability recorded than the onset of cybersickness (2% instability increase between sick and well participants). Also, separating participants suffering from cybersickness from unaffected participants was not possible based upon the recorded motion alone. Additionally, attempts to capture stability data during actual VR gameplay in specific areas of possible head stability provided mixed results and failed to identify participants exhibiting symptoms of cybersickness successfully.
In conclusion, this study finds that while a proxy measurement for head stability is obtainable from an HTC Vive headset, the results recorded in no way indicate cybersickness onset. Additionally, the study proves cognitive load and test order significantly impact stability measurements recorded in this way. As such, this approach would need calibration on a case-by-case basis if used to detect cybersickness.

KeywordsVirtual Reality; Cybersickness; HMD; Realistic Usage; Positional Tracking; Postural Stability
PublisherCollege of Science and Engineering, University of derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.48773/9q422
File Access Level
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Nov 2022
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