MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — First-of-its-kind research from the University of Minnesota is helping explain why iPad users may experience motion sickness while using the device for an extended period of time.

In a study recently published in the journal Experimental Brain Research, participants played video games on iPad under controlled, experimental conditions. A third of the participants experienced motion sickness.

The study discovered, however, that the risk of motion sickness is “greatly influenced” by how participants played the game.

Half the participants played the game by manually controlling the device, which is also known as tilt control. Those participants rarely became sick, according to the study.

On the other hand, participants playing in “touch” mode – using fingertip contact on the screen – were nearly five times as likely to get motion sickness.

“In 2011, we used Xbox and virtual driving games to study the age-old finding that the driver is less likely to get car sick than the passenger,” lead researcher Thomas Stoffregen, director of the U of M Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology, said. “In 2012, we studied motion sickness in walking, using Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, with some people ‘driving’ the avatar and others watching a recording of the avatar. Turns out, like in our new study, the difference in getting sick or not is about being in control of your locomotion.”

Stroffregen believes the research will have broader implications for motion sickness studies and brain research.

“We have had lots of anecdotal reports that mobile devices can induce motion sickness, but ours is the first study in which these anecdotes have been put to the test under controlled experimental conditions,” he said.


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