The brave new world of virtual reality and 3D displays on everything from smartphone to wall-sized monitors is presented as an unalloyed good. We will see images and scenes in new, life-like, immersive environments that will more and more simulate “being there.” Google Glass and other wearable technology will change the way people view things, literally, and could change much of society and culture in much the same way that the internet and mobile computing has changed the last 20 years.
However, the changeover from flat, 2D displays and systems to 3D and wearable technology will come with their own challenges. One writer suggests that this technology will make motion sickness the occupational disease of this century. Occupational diseases often develop when new products, systems or technologies are introduced and little is understood of their potential effect on the people who must work with them.
Diseases, such as Black Lung or Mesothelioma, were unknown until miners or shipyard workers began to become ill and die. Unlike Mesothelioma, which often takes decades to develop, new display technology can frequently produce symptoms of motion sickness or headaches in users within minutes.
Motion sickness is understood to be induced when the motions of the body do not match the visual cues the brain receives. The problem has been seen by the military, in the use of simulators, but as immersive technology become more wide spread, other industries will probably see more cases develop.
3D technology and systems like Google Glass also mess with how the brain constructs the world we see, and can induce headaches. Eventually, if widely adopted, motion sickness may appear in many workplaces where the workers never leave their desk.
Source: Quartz, “Digital motion sickness will be the occupational disease of the 21st century,” Christopher Mims, September 28, 2013