Research Topic

Cybersickness in Virtual Reality Versus Augmented Reality

About this Research Topic

Cybersickness is a form of motion sickness that occurs as a result of exposure to immersive eXtended Reality (XR) environments, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications. Depending on the immersive content, 20%-95% of users typically experience some form of cybersickness, ranging from a slight headache to an emetic response. The most common symptoms include general discomfort, headache, eyestrain, stomach awareness, nausea, sweating, sopite syndrome (a.k.a. drowsiness), and disorientation; on very rare occasion (~1%) an emetic response is experienced. Symptoms can last from minutes to days post exposure, with aftereffects manifesting as postural ataxia, visual displacements (e.g., altered vestibulo-ocular reflex), altered hand-eye coordination, among other ailments. Cybersickness has been referred to as the “elephant in the room,” due to its potential to drastically limit the proliferation of XR technology.

One current challenge in the area is the fact that cybersickness varies based on the type of immersion, with VR exposure typically having more disorientation (D) than nausea (N) and lastly oculuomotor disturbance (O) symptoms (i.e., a D>N>O profile), whereas AR exposure typically results in an O>D>N profile. As VR tends to lead to overt manifestations of motion sickness, such as stomach awareness and nausea, this technology is oftentimes self-limiting as users will curtail exposure when they feel compromised. AR, on the other hand, is generally associated with everyday ailments such as headaches and eyestrain, which are less overtly noxious and thus could be ignored by users and lead to protracted AR exposure, the safety of which has yet to be established. Research is needed to understand the nuances of cybersickness in VR versus AR environments, specifically: how XR dose (i.e., stimulus intensity) varies with VR versus AR system factors, how the capacity of the individual exposed (e.g., susceptibility) varies with VR versus AR, content design strategies that could minimize cybersickness in VR versus AR, how usage protocols should vary for VR versus AR exposure, among other concerns.

Goal: This Research topic aims, through high quality articles, to facilitate multidisciplinary research revolving around the current cybersickness challenges associated with VR versus AR applications. The topic is proposed in recognition of and in memory of the career and accomplishments of Dr. Robert S. Kennedy (1936 – 2019), a pioneer in the discipline of Human Factors Psychology and perhaps best known for his work on simulator sickness and the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire. Beyond his simulator sickness research, he often explored issues of measuring and predicting human performance in operational environments at sea, in the air, in space, and on the roadway.

Scope: Specific areas of interest within the scope of this research topic are diverse and include:

-AR Cybersickness is Not VR Cybersickness
Themed after Kennedy’s Cybersickness is Not Simulator Sickness and The Psychometrics of Cybersickness and What to Expect From Immersive Virtual Environment Exposure: Influences of Gender, Body Mass Index, and Past Experience.

-Correlates of Cybersickness in AR versus VR
Themed after Kennedy’s Correlating Visual Scene Elements with Simulator Sickness Incidence: Hardware and Software Development.

-Cybersickness Survey Measures
Themed after Kennedy’s Configural Scoring of Simulator Sickness, Cybersickness, and Space Adaptation Syndrome: Similarities and Differences and Use of a Motion Sickness History Questionnaire for Prediction of Simulator Sickness among many others.

-Cybersickness Symptom Profiles in AR versus VR
Themed after Kennedy’s Profile Analysis of Simulator Sickness Symptoms: Application to Virtual Environment Systems.

-Visual Acuity in VR and AR Headsets
Themed after Kennedy’s A Portable Device for the Assessment of Dynamic Visual Acuity.

- Recovery from AR versus VR Exposure
Themed after Kennedy’s Recovery From Virtual Environment Exposure: Expected Time Course of Symptoms and Potential Readaptation Strategies and Postural Instability Induced by Virtual Reality Exposure: Development of a Certification Protocol and Postural and Performance Changes Following Exposures to Flight Simulators and The Time Course of Postflight Simulator Sickness Symptoms.

-Isoperformance Curves in Immersive Environments
Themed after Kennedy’s Isoperformance Curves in Applied Psychology.

-Changes in the Dark Focus of Accommodation Associated with Cybersickness
Themed after Kennedy’s Changes in the Dark Focus of Accommodation Associated with Simulator Sickness.

-Other Suitable Topics Related to Bob’s Legacy

We welcome original research studies and systematic and scoping reviews on the above topics that advance the understanding of how best to design and implement immersive XR environments such that cybersickness is minimized.


Keywords: cybersickness, visual acuity in head mounted displays, postural instability, adverse aftereffects, isoperformance curves


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Cybersickness is a form of motion sickness that occurs as a result of exposure to immersive eXtended Reality (XR) environments, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications. Depending on the immersive content, 20%-95% of users typically experience some form of cybersickness, ranging from a slight headache to an emetic response. The most common symptoms include general discomfort, headache, eyestrain, stomach awareness, nausea, sweating, sopite syndrome (a.k.a. drowsiness), and disorientation; on very rare occasion (~1%) an emetic response is experienced. Symptoms can last from minutes to days post exposure, with aftereffects manifesting as postural ataxia, visual displacements (e.g., altered vestibulo-ocular reflex), altered hand-eye coordination, among other ailments. Cybersickness has been referred to as the “elephant in the room,” due to its potential to drastically limit the proliferation of XR technology.

One current challenge in the area is the fact that cybersickness varies based on the type of immersion, with VR exposure typically having more disorientation (D) than nausea (N) and lastly oculuomotor disturbance (O) symptoms (i.e., a D>N>O profile), whereas AR exposure typically results in an O>D>N profile. As VR tends to lead to overt manifestations of motion sickness, such as stomach awareness and nausea, this technology is oftentimes self-limiting as users will curtail exposure when they feel compromised. AR, on the other hand, is generally associated with everyday ailments such as headaches and eyestrain, which are less overtly noxious and thus could be ignored by users and lead to protracted AR exposure, the safety of which has yet to be established. Research is needed to understand the nuances of cybersickness in VR versus AR environments, specifically: how XR dose (i.e., stimulus intensity) varies with VR versus AR system factors, how the capacity of the individual exposed (e.g., susceptibility) varies with VR versus AR, content design strategies that could minimize cybersickness in VR versus AR, how usage protocols should vary for VR versus AR exposure, among other concerns.

Goal: This Research topic aims, through high quality articles, to facilitate multidisciplinary research revolving around the current cybersickness challenges associated with VR versus AR applications. The topic is proposed in recognition of and in memory of the career and accomplishments of Dr. Robert S. Kennedy (1936 – 2019), a pioneer in the discipline of Human Factors Psychology and perhaps best known for his work on simulator sickness and the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire. Beyond his simulator sickness research, he often explored issues of measuring and predicting human performance in operational environments at sea, in the air, in space, and on the roadway.

Scope: Specific areas of interest within the scope of this research topic are diverse and include:

-AR Cybersickness is Not VR Cybersickness
Themed after Kennedy’s Cybersickness is Not Simulator Sickness and The Psychometrics of Cybersickness and What to Expect From Immersive Virtual Environment Exposure: Influences of Gender, Body Mass Index, and Past Experience.

-Correlates of Cybersickness in AR versus VR
Themed after Kennedy’s Correlating Visual Scene Elements with Simulator Sickness Incidence: Hardware and Software Development.

-Cybersickness Survey Measures
Themed after Kennedy’s Configural Scoring of Simulator Sickness, Cybersickness, and Space Adaptation Syndrome: Similarities and Differences and Use of a Motion Sickness History Questionnaire for Prediction of Simulator Sickness among many others.

-Cybersickness Symptom Profiles in AR versus VR
Themed after Kennedy’s Profile Analysis of Simulator Sickness Symptoms: Application to Virtual Environment Systems.

-Visual Acuity in VR and AR Headsets
Themed after Kennedy’s A Portable Device for the Assessment of Dynamic Visual Acuity.

- Recovery from AR versus VR Exposure
Themed after Kennedy’s Recovery From Virtual Environment Exposure: Expected Time Course of Symptoms and Potential Readaptation Strategies and Postural Instability Induced by Virtual Reality Exposure: Development of a Certification Protocol and Postural and Performance Changes Following Exposures to Flight Simulators and The Time Course of Postflight Simulator Sickness Symptoms.

-Isoperformance Curves in Immersive Environments
Themed after Kennedy’s Isoperformance Curves in Applied Psychology.

-Changes in the Dark Focus of Accommodation Associated with Cybersickness
Themed after Kennedy’s Changes in the Dark Focus of Accommodation Associated with Simulator Sickness.

-Other Suitable Topics Related to Bob’s Legacy

We welcome original research studies and systematic and scoping reviews on the above topics that advance the understanding of how best to design and implement immersive XR environments such that cybersickness is minimized.


Keywords: cybersickness, visual acuity in head mounted displays, postural instability, adverse aftereffects, isoperformance curves


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

10 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

10 July 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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