Imagine exploring the limitless horizons of virtual reality for nursing education without the looming dread of nausea. Thanks to Meta's guidelines and UbiSim's pioneering features, such a future is not only conceivable but well within our reach.
The phenomenon of motion sickness in virtual reality, commonly referred to as "VR sickness," primarily stems from the misalignment between what our eyes perceive and how our inner ear, the vestibular system, interprets motion.
Meta has recommendations to limit these challenges, and platforms like UbiSim, a nursing VR platform, have risen to the challenge by pioneering preventative methods that drastically reduce these adverse effects. UbiSim's strategies, from using teleportation in movement to ensure seamless transitions to maintaining higher frame rates for fluid visuals, create a more harmonious VR experience.
We’re going to explore Meta’s recommendations and UbiSim’s considerations.
Meta’s Health and Safety Warnings provide tips for preventing motion sickness while in VR.
Take regular breaks when using your Meta Quest. Start with short use sessions and long breaks when you are using a new headset or new content. Take a break at least every 30 minutes while you are becoming accustomed to your headset or new content. Take them more frequently than every 30 minutes if you feel discomfort. Always take a break if you feel discomfort, and don’t start again until you no longer feel discomfort.
Start by using your headset for only a few minutes at a time, and only increase the amount of time using the headset gradually as you grow accustomed to the experience.
Make sure you are in a cool room with fresh airflow.
Consider what you eat beforehand.
You can even try motion sickness medications or wristbands.
Locomotion is the ability to move from one place to another in physical space. In VR, UbiSim has two features enabling users to move without getting sick: teleporting and proximity to tools.
Teleporting: In UbiSim, nurse learners teleport from one side of the room to the other or onto the other side of the bed. Almost all studies in a review found that teleportation causes little to no VR sickness, which confirms its usefulness. The screen goes black during this process as if the person blinked and reappeared. The blinking effect also helps reduce nausea.
One alternative would be to have the user push a joystick and have them move, but they are more likely to get motion sickness because it’s not matching up with their body. So, teleportation makes the most sense.
Proximity to tools: In UbiSim, nurse learners have the tools, like a bulb syringe or a thermometer, that they need right in front of them without having to take steps.
One of the critical contributors to a seamless and immersive virtual reality experience is the frame rate at which content is displayed. The brain is exceptionally sensitive to visual inconsistencies, and a lag or stutter in visuals can create a mismatch between what our eyes see and what our vestibular system expects, resulting in discomfort or nausea.
UbiSim is acutely aware of this crucial aspect of VR and thus emphasizes the importance of maintaining high frame rates. According to research, with higher frame rates, the visual representation in the VR environment becomes smoother and more fluid, aligning more closely with our natural perception of movement. This synchronization minimizes the discrepancies that might trigger motion sickness.
UbiSim is a highly realistic platform with patients, tools, and rooms that mimic real hospital settings. This realism benefits the learner in that it could help with motion sickness. Michael Barnett-Cowan, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo, shared his research: “Our findings suggest that the severity of a person’s cybersickness is affected by how our senses adjust to the conflict between reality and virtual reality.” When learners feel like they’re really there, they’re less susceptible to motion sickness.
In the worst-case scenario that none of these tips work, UbiSim has an opportunity for students to play the facilitator or observer role so that they can still maximize their learning. Incorporating a facilitator or observer mode has its roots in collaborative learning theory. Vygotsky's "Zone of Proximal Development" suggests that learners can perform at higher levels when they collaborate or receive guidance.
Facilitator: UbiSim is not a boring automated process. There is an opportunity for another nurse learner to facilitate the dialog that the student in VR hears. They can trigger certain prompts from the patient or their family member while also watching the checklist to see if the student in VR has done everything they needed, such as using an alcohol wipe on the baby before inserting an IV.
Observer: There’s also the option for the whole virtual reality experience to be cast on a TV or a laptop, so a student who is not in VR can watch the learner participating in VR. A lot can be learned from watching the process from the outside, so learning isn’t lost, even if the student can’t directly participate.
From simple considerations like taking breaks to advanced technological solutions like teleportation and high frame rates, there's a dedicated effort towards making VR experiences more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Whether students are immersing themselves as learners or participating as observers, UbiSim ensures that the journey into virtual realms is as smooth as possible.