Virtual Reality (VR) sickness is common with symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and disorientation, and is a major barrier to using VR. We propose WalkingVibe, which applies unobtrusive vibrotactile feedback for VR walking experiences, and also reduces VR sickness and discomfort while improving realism. Feedback is delivered through two small vibration motors behind the ears at a frequency that strikes a balance in inducing vestibular response while minimizing annoyance. We conducted a 240-person study to explore how visual, audio, and various tactile feedback designs affect the locomotion experience of users walking passively in VR while seated statically in reality. Results showed timing and location for tactile feedback have significant effects on VR sickness and realism. With WalkingVibe, 2-sided step-synchronized design significantly reduces VR sickness and discomfort while significantly improving realism. Furthermore, its unobtrusiveness and ease of integration make WalkingVibe a practical approach for improving VR experiences with new and existing VR headsets.

WalkingVibe prototype with 2 vibration motors behind the ears, which provide vibrotactile stimulation synchronized to footsteps in VR.

WalkingVibe: Reducing Virtual Reality Sickness and Improving Realism while Walking in VR using Unobtrusive Head-mounted Vibrotactile Feedback

Yi-Hao Peng, Carolyn Yu, Shi-Hong Liu, Chung-Wei Wang, Paul Taele, Neng-Hao Yu, and Mike Y. Chen. 2020. WalkingVibe: Reducing Virtual Reality Sickness and Improving Realism while Walking in VR using Unobtrusive Head-mounted Vibrotactile Feedback. In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’20). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 1–12.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3313831.3376847