With several consumer products planned to release within the next year, VR is officially taking off (again). But if you're one of those unfortunate few who turns green at the sight of a head-mounted display, it may not sound very promising.
Motion sickness has been a huge problem for virtual reality ever since it looked like something out of The Lawnmower Man, but Valve boss Gabe Newell says his company and hardware partner HTC have finally cracked it with the help of… wait for it… lasers.
Newell told The New York Times (opens in new tab) that “zero percent of people get motion sick” when they try the Vive VR system. That's not just because it has high refresh rates and low latency displays - it's also because of the Lighthouse tracking system.
As you might expect, a physical-space tracking system for virtual reality is pretty complicated. But in a nutshell, Lighthouse uses two laser-emitting base units which are placed at different points in a room, allowing the sensor-speckled Vive headset to track changes in the user's position. This Tested video (opens in new tab) has a pretty good primer on the tech, if you want to know more.
Couple this with the standard array of gyrometers and other motion tracking methods, and you have a system that can follow you around a 15-by-15 foot area in great detail, a system that Newell says will finally keep motion-sickness prone folks like himself from tossing their cookies.