Metaverse making you sick? Chew some gum

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If we’re really going to be inside the metaverse for hours at a time, we’re going to have to be able to put down our lunch. And some researchers say that chewing gum may do the trick.

The great thing about our future in virtual reality and the metaverse is that it’s an immersive, 360-degree experience. Solving puzzles in a virtual car or playing tennis against virtual opponents from around the world can be a lot of fun. But some experiences including running, fighting, or, as I have found, flying an airplane, can cause nausea.

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I am lucky that it does not last long. I can focus on just one virtual object and suppress the rising bile. I know other people aren’t so lucky and strapping on a VR helmet is like stepping on a wildly rocking boat without the benefit of Dramamine.

Now a team of researchers in Germany has found that chewing gum can help reduce these symptoms. In a study conducted last year, participants took a 15-minute VR helicopter flight (instead of passengers, they played crew members). Each of the 77 participants was assigned to a different control group. There were people without gum, those with mint flavored gum and ginger flavored gum.

The results were, well, bubbly. Researchers found that chewing gum effectively reduced VR-induced motion sickness.

Instead of getting sick when flying a VR helicopter, mechanical, noisy, stimulating gum-chewing simply shut down the participants’ inner-ear or vestibular system (the thing most responsible for motion sickness) as usual. The researchers also noted that chewing gum distracts from motion sickness, as they believe, the pleasure of enjoying the taste of delicious gum.

Ultimately, the findings weren’t entirely surprising for the research team, who noted that they support similar results from a 2017 study that involved using gum to combat postoperative nausea.

While some of us still spend enough time in VR to require some sort of nausea palliative, the metaverse vision in which we conduct many of today’s common activities in a virtual space may mean that we Either develop to combat nausea on your own… or start chewing too much gum.

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