Articles & Papers: Health & Safety
Technical Report 1027, Executive Summary
Simulator Sickness in Virtual Environments: Executive
U.S. Army Research Institute
Stephen L. Goldberg, Chief
Jack H. Hiller, Director
5001 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia 22333-5600
The Army has made a substantial commitment to Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) and the electronic battlefield for training, concept development, and test and evaluation. The current DIS training system-Simulation Networking (SIMNET)-and the next generation system-the Close Combat Tactical Trainer (CCTT)-provide effective training for soldiers fighting from vehicles, but are unable to do the same for individual dismounted soldiers. Virtual Environment (VE) technology has the potential to provide Individual Combat Simulations (ICS) for the electronic battlefield. However, initial research in the use of VE technology indicates that some participants experience simulator sickness-a pattern of symptoms including nausea, headaches, and disorientation. This has implications for both training effectiveness and safety. This report is the first step in the identification of ways to reduce the occurrence and severity of these symptoms.
Since the research literature of simulator sickness in VEs is very limited, the literature on sickness in other types of simulators and, to a lesser extent, the literature on the related phenomenon of motion sickness were reviewed. The factors believed to affect the duration and severity of simulator sickness were organized into three groups: simulator factors, task factors, and individual factors.
Although there is debate as to the exact cause or causes of simulator sickness, a primary suspected cause is inconsistent information about body orientation and motion received by the different senses, known as the cue conflict theory. For example, the visual system may perceive that the body is moving rapidly, while the vestibular system perceives that the body is stationary. Inconsistent, non-natural information within a single sense has also been prominent among suggested causes.
Although a large contingent of researchers believe the cue conflict theory explains simulator sickness, an alternative theory was reviewed as well. Forty factors shown or believed to influence the occurrence or severity of simulator sickness were identified. Future research is proposed.
Utilization of Findings:
This literature search provides a framework that can be used to conduct future research to reduce the occurrence of simulator sickness in virtual environments. In addition, it has directly influenced the approach being used in technical advisory service provided to Headquarters, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, to reduce simulator sickness in combat vehicle trainers.