JUNE 25, 2020 — Cybersickness, or motion sickness during the use of virtual reality, can be a major roadblock to the development and adoption of augmented and virtual reality technology. Now researchers at UTSA have built GingerVR, the first open-source Unity software tool kit that allows developers to use proven techniques and innovative solutions against cybersickness in future extended reality environments.
“GingerVR can be applied to any Unity application, be it a game, enterprise application or job training,” said John Quarles, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science who along with Ph.D. student Samuel Ang developed the tool kit.
XR is a catchall phrase for the next-level digital content that tech companies like Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, Google and Facebook deploy in smart phones and, in some cases, directly onto users’ faces. Within the gaming industry, extended reality is seen as the third pillar of entertainment.
Although Unity leads in the AR and VR game development sector, it has shifted toward business-to-business applications. Companies such as Unity plan to move beyond gaming to develop applications for architecture, engineering and construction use. A survey by the firm Forrester Consulting has shown that one in two of companies in these industries plan to incorporate extended reality within the next two years.
It’s an accelerated transition from the currently reported 19% adoption rate among firms. This means that the future workforce will have to learn quickly how to navigate these XR environments, where the virtual seamlessly blends with the real and vice versa.
“Cybersickness is a threat to the overall user acceptance of VR, which has a potentially huge impact on the VR industry. The negative symptoms experienced by a user can decrease human performance, limit learning and hinder decision making,” said Quarles. “It has been a problem in VR since the creation of the technology and is still not totally understood as to why it occurs and in whom.”
The percentage of individuals who suffer from cybersickeness side effects is hard to pinpoint. According to Quarles, the research literature indicates that more than half of users experience symptoms but with a wide range of severity.
“Some users can habituate over time, while others could just put on a headset and have to pull it off. They just can’t handle it,” said Quarles. “We just don’t know why there are those individual differences. Our goal is to make the technology available to the widest possible audience,” he added.
Ginger VR, was named after the plant which is known to be an antidote for nausea—one of the classic symptoms of cybersickness. Other negative effects of these new environments include disorientation or fatigue.
Recently the AR/VR industry led by Unity, Google, Microsoft and other major players in the space created a consortium known as OpenXR. The foundation focuses on making AR/VR software to agree on a general framework and integrate any headset without having to write new code across platforms. Yet, according to Quarles, OpenXR doesn’t necessarily address the cybersickness gap, which GingerVR does meet.
The software tool kit implements eight cybersickness reduction techniques in Unity. These solutions are packaged in an open-source repository along with tutorials for ease of integration. As a result, these techniques are now simple to add and don’t depend on other software packages outside of what already comes with a default Unity project.
Researchers from around the world are often creating new reduction techniques, which can easily be integrated into GingerVR. Quarles along with Ang is currently working on releasing an integrated automated, real-time cybersickness detection, prediction and reduction framework on the GingerVR toolkit.
"We hope that this package will serve as a shortcut to researchers looking to utilize these techniques and develop a better understanding of why they are effective,” said Quarles. “In the future we hope to update this Unity package with additional cybersickness reduction techniques as they appear in the literature and improve existing assets based on user feedback.”
Professor Quarles’ previous work on cybersickness has been supported by Intel. The Ginger VR software tool kit was funded by the National Science Foundation and presented at the 2020 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops.
Come celebrate the doctoral students graduating this commencement season.H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms, UTSA Main Campus
Celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the College for Health, Community and Policy, College of Liberal and Fine Arts and College of Sciences.Alamodome, 100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203
Celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, College of Education and Human Development, Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design and University College.Alamodome, 100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203
First Friday Stargazing gives anyone free access to the night sky using university telescopes and teaching equipment. Weather permitting, experienced astronomers will provide a handful of telescopes of varying designs, give training on how each operates, and point to various astronomical objects that may appear in the sky for that given time of the year. If you have a telescope and do not know how to operate it, feel free to bring it and get instructions on its use.4th Floor of Flawn Science Building, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.