Ergonomics Research/studies

Reduce ergonomic hazards of VR during design and development, researchers say

Photo: D-Keine/iStockphoto

DeKalb, IL — Programmers and developers of virtual reality applications should focus on minimizing potential ergonomic hazards for users of this fast-growing technology, say researchers from Northern Illinois and Oregon State universities.

For the study, the researchers asked 10 men and 10 women to wear a VR headset and point to dots around a circle or color in objects. The participants performed the task with the visual at eye level, then again at 15 degrees above, 15 degrees below and 30 degrees below eye level. Discomfort was greatest when the participants looked up while performing the task. This position also forced the participants into extended neck and elevated arm positions.

During all four scenarios, extending an arm straight out caused discomfort in the shoulder in as little as three minutes. The researchers noted that this position can lead to rotator cuff issues and gorilla arm syndrome with prolonged VR use. Additionally, prolonged use can increase the risk of neck strain because it adds to the weight that the cervical spine must support.


“We recommend that objects that are being interacted with more often should be closer to the body,” researcher Jay Kim, from the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said in a Jan. 7 press release. “And objects should be located at eye level, rather than up and down.”

The study was published online Nov. 27 in the journal Applied Ergonomics.

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