Some people do roller coasters, and some don’t. You can blame your stomach or your inner ear, but motion sickness – that hangover sensation without the party beforehand – isn’t much fun. Now there’s good news for FPV pilots who find that their stomachs tend to drop along with their drones: MONKEYmedia, an independent R&D lab, has tackled the problem.
“MONKEYmedia, Inc. announced the launch of its patented body- based navigation solution (BodyNavTM) for hands-free virtual reality interactions. BodyNav leverages the existing on- board sensors of smartphones and advanced 3D headsets in novel and unanticipated ways to engage the body’s innate center of gravity,” says the company press release. “This human-centered interaction approach reduces motion sickness artifacts and enhances navigation abilities in virtual and augmented realities (VR/AR), as well as first-person view (FPV) drone aviation contexts.”
Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst at research and analysis company Quocirca, explains that “making the physical experience align with human expectations, as I experienced with MONKEYmedia’s BodyNav technology, is critical not only for an effective VR experience, but also for avoiding digitally induced motion sickness.”
The Motion Sickness Challenge
Motion sickness has long been a complaint amongst virtual reality gamers and drone pilots. Traditional stereoscopic headset interfaces use multiple sensor axes (e.g. rotate left/right, pivot up/down, tip left/right) to establish viewer orientation, while requiring handheld controllers (e.g., joysticks, gamepads, keyboards, etc.) for locomotion. Visually “moving” through space while in a sedentary posture creates sensory imbalances that can cause dizziness and nausea in the viewer. Oculus’ former Chief Scientist goes so far as to call hand controllers “sickness generators.” Addressing this problem, MONKEYmedia’s patented, hands-free BodyNav technology creates more intuitive virtual interactions by remapping control axes to accomplish both orientation and locomotion with natural body movement. This provides the organic equilibrium needed to circumvent sensory imbalances.
“Fundamentally, MONKEYmedia has solved a really important problem within the VR community,” said Richard Garriott de Cayeux, legendary video game pioneer and private astronaut. BodyNav “doesn’t require a joystick and you don’t get motion sickness. It has a very natural feel and seems to solve vestibular dysfunction. An outstanding solution.”
How BodyNav Works
Without any custom hardware, BodyNav uses distinct sensor axes for independent functions to maintain equilibrium in the body’s proprioceptive system. Viewers simply lean, using either their head or torso, to move themselves through virtual spaces, or to move their drones through remote physical spaces. This allows the sensory receptors, which receive stimuli internally and relate to the body’s position and movement, to properly engage with virtual or remote content, synchronizing visual and vestibular senses and reducing motion sickness-inducing factors.
“MONKEYmedia has been on the forefront of interface design and invention since the first wave of VR innovation in the early ’90s, and we’ve learned that motion sickness in VR has more to do with human interaction than raw hardware capabilities,” said Eric Bear, co-founder of MONKEYmedia and co-inventor of BodyNav. “The launch of BodyNav comes after more than 20 years of experimental research and development. The resulting technology creates a sense of agency in viewers that fosters deeper connections with content, characters and 3D data. We’re excited to open doors for developers to provide more enjoyable and inspiring experiences to consumers in a variety of contexts.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.