Are you thinking of purchasing yourself a new Virtual Reality Device? Are you thinking or purchasing one for a friend or family? If the answer is yes then you are like one of millions as the VR generation sets upon the western world. According to recent sales figures more than a million VR headsets were shipped during the third quarter of 2017. That number will only increase in 2018 as more manufacturers with more advanced models enter the market.
You are probably thinking great! “This will make it easier for myself to get hold of a device” and who doesn’t want to experience jumping out of a plane whilst be perfectly safe in your own home. In full honestly it is very early days in terms of the integration of VR technology into society. The world is yet to see the full potential side effects of using the devices over long periods of time. We do not know the full list of how the tech could harm people physically and just as importantly – mentally. Years of testing will be required by a bunch of brainy scientists to discover this however; the short-term effects are known and here are a few that you should be aware about before you or your loved ones try out your shiny new VR gadgets.
Spatial awareness is what stops us tripping over steps and walking into walls. As obvious as it sounds and simple to avoid, more and more stories are released of people harming themselves through disorientation. People tend to forget what an immediate danger to them in the real world whilst in VR. Everyone has seen the videos that went viral of people rock climbing in VR and then falling flat on the face due to disorientation. The problem is that once users have been engaged in the device for more than 30 minutes a lot of them tend to forget their where they are and what is around them.
Sickness and nausea can happen quite frequently whilst using the VR style devices. It can vary from person to person similar to car or sea sickness. People prone to motion sickness and vertigo are going to be more likely to experience this going into the world of VR, but even users without these characteristics can start to feel the symptoms after extended use. The more expensive products such as the PlayStation and HTC Hive have built in countermeasures to reduce the motion sickness, but whether this can be completely avoided is yet to be seen. The quick fix is to just take the headset off and have a break in the real world.
On a serious note – if you are prone to seizures then you should probably just stay away from the technology completely. The VR devices may trigger symptoms that cause a seizure to occur so until manufactures can confidently state that this is no possible risk to seizure suffers; it is not worth the risk.
Hopefully this article informs you a bit more of what to expect in terms of short term side effects from using a VR device. It is yet to be seen how the VR invasion will negatively affect health in the long run but as more devices become available more warnings and health risks are bound to come with them.