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Health and Safety Issues associated with Virtual Reality - A Review of Current Literature

P.J. Costello, July 23rd, 1997

Patrick Costello
Advanced VR Research Centre
Dept. of Human Sciences
Loughborough University
LE11 1NL


VR techniques provide the user with a new and more powerful method of interacting with computers than the traditional techniques of keyboard and mouse. As such, there are many potential VR applications in areas such as entertainment, medicine and engineering and many research groups in the UK and abroad are now investigating this technology with the view to developing commercially viable products. There are various implementations of VR and these can be placed broadly into three categories; desktop, semi-immersive and fully immersive depending on the sophistication of the technologies being used.. However, the exploitation of this technology has not been without it’s drawbacks. A number of recent reports have suggested that the use of VR equipment may have unwanted physical, physiological and psychological side-effects. This report provides an overview of current research in this area, the principal findings and the relationship between potential side-effects and the VR implementation being used. It is hoped that this report will provide a thorough overview of the area of VR health and safety for members of the AGOCG user commumity who are considering buying, or already own, a VR system.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1 Brief History
1.2 Examples of Applications
1.3 Scope and Purpose of report

2. Types of VR system

2.1 Non-Immersive (Desktop) Systems
2.2 Semi-Immersive Projection Systems
2.2.1 Shutter Glasses
2.3 Fully Immersive Head-Mounted Display Systems
2.3.1 Head Mounted Displays (HMDs)
2.4 Comparison between VR Implementations

3. Health Issues associated with VR Use

3.1 Physical
3.1.1 Posture
3.1.2 Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)
3.1.3 Headset Weight and Fit
3.1.4 Hygiene Issues
3.1.5 Immersion Injuries
3.2 Physiological
3.2.1 Visual Issues
3.2.2 Simulator Sickness Symptoms
3.2.3 Simulator Sickness Symptom Theories
3.3 Psychological
3.4 Potential Health Benefits

4. Discussion

5. Acknowledgement

6. References

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