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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Oregon State: Study Shows How to Reduce Physical Risk in Virtual Reality

Carpal tunnel, stiff shoulders and eye-strain headaches ­­– these are all well-known side effects of prolonged computer use. But what happens when you step away from the desktop and into virtual reality?

A recent study from Oregon State University assessed how some common virtual reality movements contribute to muscle strain and discomfort. It’s an effort to ensure future user safety in this fast-growing technology that is used not only for gaming, but also increasingly for education and industrial training.

“There are no standards and guidelines for virtual and augmented reality interactions,” said researcher Dr. Jay Kim of Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “We wanted to evaluate the effects of the target distances, locations and sizes so we can better design these interfaces to reduce the risk for potential musculoskeletal injuries.”

The study was published recently in Applied Ergonomics with Northern Illinois University co-authors Mr. Sai Akhil Penumudi, Mr. Veera Aneesh Kuppam and Dr. Jaejin Hwang.

Virtual reality (VR) users wear a headset and engage in full-body, three-dimensional movements – unlike conventional computer users, where a desk or the arms of a chair offer some level of support for the hands and arms.

With sensors placed on participants’ joints and muscles, researchers used motion capture to record their movements and electromyography to measure electrical activity in their muscles while performing common VR gestures. Wearing an Oculus Rift VR headset, participants were tasked with either pointing to specific dots around a circle, or coloring in a certain area with their finger.

Research findings

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