Preliminary Results Show That VR HMDs Have The Potential To Positively Impact Eyesight In Young Users
As virtual reality technology advances rapidly, VR devices have become part of everyday life for many folks around the world. At present, most VR HMD designs often contain a single focal plane for both eyes. The design is structurally simple and widely user-friendly. Compared with traditional VRs intended for specialized and short-term use scenarios, the current VR technologies are expected to be used in general, long-term use scenarios. However, the users constantly focus their eyes at a fixed distance when using HMDs, which raises concerns of severe eye fatigue or even potential harm caused by VR HMDs. As VR technologies have brought dramatic changes and ground-breaking innovations to various industries, these concerns bring uncertainty to the development of the industry.
So, the Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Future Visual Entertainment recently collaborated with multiple organizations, including the Beijing Institute of Technology, to conduct a study to understand the impact of lengthy VR head-mounted display (HMD) use on young users.
The study recruited elementary school students ages 9-12 for an on-campus VR experience event. There were 26 males and 24 females who participated in the experiment with 13 subjects from each group participating in the tablet (control group) test the following day of the trials.
In the experiment itself, the subjects used smart tablets or VR HMDs for a long period of time which required the use of specific VR contents.
The criteria for selecting VR contents included:
(1) The contents should be vivid and interesting, educational while entertaining, and can be used by the subjects for a long time.
(2) Overall, the picture should be bright, and the luminance should remain steady throughout the experience.
(3) In the picture, there should be abundant objects.
(4) A large amount of fast-moving objects and other elements that may cause motion sickness shall be avoided in the experiment.
(5) Contents in VR games and tablet games are highly consistent. The experiment selected VR contents.
List of experiment equipment:
HMD – HTC Vive
Video Card – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, AMD Radeon R9 290, or above
Tablets – iPad, Samsung Android tablet, Nokia Android tablet
Phoropter – NIDEK Multi-functional Computer Phoropter
Visual acuity chart box – NIDEK visual acuity box
In certain cases, using a VR HMD proved that it can even have a positive impact on eyesight, especially in comparison to tablet usage. According to the experimental data following one hour of tablet use, the eyesight of young users did not recover after a similar period of 20 minutes of rest. Meanwhile, young users who spent the same amount of time using a VR HMD saw stable or even improved eyesight.
Researchers believe that HMDs with a properly designed virtual image distance and high-performance system that is of equal quality to Vive can even correct vision. The data shows that VR devices can quickly impact young users with myopia and/or hyperopia. The measured virtual image distance of the HTC Vive during this experiment was 1.7 meters, which is 0.3-0.45 meters farther than the students’ focal length when using a tablet. A more distant virtual image may play a critical role in the lens adjustment of young users.
VR technology is quickly moving towards generalized and long-term application scenarios. Furthermore, the conclusions of this research will help appease any concerns of general consumers regarding the effects of eye health in regards to VR use. As the VR industry continues to undergo tremendous technological change, this experiment will usher in the wider application and popularization of VR technology. HTC Vive participated in the event and provided the VR HMDs for testing the experiment in this research.