An electronic motion-sickness cure

January 30, 2018 | 01:45
An electronic motion-sickness cure
An electronic motion-sickness cure
Many of us can’t wait for the arrival of fully autonomous cars. That would mean no steering wheel, accelerator or brake. No problem of driving while under the influence, no trouble with the licensing authorities and without an incompetent human in control, fewer accidents. Unfortunately this type of environment has also been demonstrated to provoke motion sickness. Help may now be at hand…
 

New technologies can sometimes produce unforeseen problems: While being driven in an autonomous car of the future you will inevitably find something more interesting and productive to do than just gaze out at the traffic. It will be an office extension where you will most likely be sorting out emails, preparing for the day’s work or catching up on the news. Staring at a stationary screen in a moving vehicle is known to provoke a feeling of nausea or motion sickness. The main cause is a conflict between vestibular and visual inputs while in a moving vehicle. Your brain is registering a discord between forces acting on your body and the lack of any corresponding visual cues. It has always been a problem for passengers but in a driverless vehicle everyone is a passenger. The effect is not so pronounced while travelling in a train. Does that mean in the future some sensitive drivers will need to drive conventional classic cars?

The University of Michigan has now obtained a patent for a technical innovation that may just solve the problem. Moving light patterns projected into the passenger’s peripheral vision provide the necessary visual stimulus so that vestibular and visual input information are in harmony.

 
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