Can VR headsets make you sick? © Getty Images

Can VR headsets make you sick?

You may want a sick bag close to hand if you’re immersing yourself in a virtual reality.

Many people have reported experiencing motion sickness when using VR units. This is caused by latency, which creates a microscopic mismatch between what the user sees and when the inner ear registers the movement. But the brain is remarkably adaptable and can be trained to overcome this nausea by increasing the duration of use and easing into a session by looking around gently at first.

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In 2015 Valve claimed its HTC Vive VR headset eliminated latency with technology that uses timing sequences in a PC together with light from spinning lasers to figure out the position of your head and perfectly match it with your vision. However, some users still reported mild motion sickness. It’s likely this isn’t just a hardware problem. Developers build unnatural actions into their games – such as rapid spinning – and what would make a person sick in the real world will still make them sick when experienced in virtual reality.

Many manufacturers recommend that children under the age of 13 should not use VR headsets as it may affect their visual development. All users are recommended to take a 10- to 15-minute break every 30 minutes.


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