Investigation of virtual reality locomotion technology effects on simulator sickness and application for neuro-cogntive training for participants with memory problems
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This thesis investigated the effects of virtual reality locomotive controllers with a head-mounted display on a user’s simulator sickness and controller’s intuitiveness. The investigation included two types of controllers: seated static methods (TiltChair and game pad joystick) and mobile methods (omni-directional treadmill and our manual wheelchair joystick, VRNChair). Initially, young adult participants selected the TiltChair that caused the most severe simulator sickness due to its asynchronous rotation between the participants’ necks and torsos. Thus, a second experiment investigated the effect of synchronous neck rotation via utilizing the TiltChair with a neck brace. Overall, participants that spent more time in virtual reality had significantly higher simulator sickness. Additionally, the TiltChair and joystick had the highest level of intuitiveness and the omni-directional treadmill had the lowest level of intuitiveness among the young adult participants. Since we recruited young adult participants, researchers should design virtual reality experiments based on their sample population’s susceptibility to simulator sickness and ability to utilize the virtual reality technology. Therefore, elderly participants with minimal computer experience would find the naturalistic motion of the VRNChair intuitive with minimal simulator sickness. To further investigate the feasibility of the virtual reality locomotive controllers, the thesis investigated participants with memory problems utilizing the VRNChair or TiltChair during a neuro-cognitive rehabilitation program. The participants had no difficulties with the virtual reality locomotive controller and neuro-cognitive training shopping task, but the participants did not have any significant memory improvements. Therefore, the virtual reality neuro-cognitive tasks should be re-designed to minimize simulator sickness and to optimize mental stimulation for any potential cognitive or memory improvements.