The impact of task workload on cybersickness

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Sepich, Nathan C.
Jasper, Angelica
Fieffer, Stephen
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Frontiers Media S.A.
Gilbert, Stephen
Associate Professor
Dorneich, Michael
Kelly, Jonathan
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Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering
The Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering teaches the design, analysis, and improvement of the systems and processes in manufacturing, consulting, and service industries by application of the principles of engineering. The Department of General Engineering was formed in 1929. In 1956 its name changed to Department of Industrial Engineering. In 1989 its name changed to the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering.
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Aerospace Engineering

The Department of Aerospace Engineering seeks to instruct the design, analysis, testing, and operation of vehicles which operate in air, water, or space, including studies of aerodynamics, structure mechanics, propulsion, and the like.

The Department of Aerospace Engineering was organized as the Department of Aeronautical Engineering in 1942. Its name was changed to the Department of Aerospace Engineering in 1961. In 1990, the department absorbed the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics and became the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. In 2003 the name was changed back to the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

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  • Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics (1990-2003)

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The Department of Psychology may prepare students with a liberal study, or for work in academia or professional education for law or health-services. Graduates will be able to apply the scientific method to human behavior and mental processes, as well as have ample knowledge of psychological theory and method.
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Virtual Reality Applications Center
At VRAC, our mission is clear: “To elevate the synergy between humans and complex interdisciplinary systems to unprecedented levels of performance”. Through our exceptional Human Computer Interaction (HCI) graduate program, we nurture the next generation of visionaries and leaders in the field, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of the intricate relationship between humans and technology. This empowers our students to create intuitive and transformative user experiences that bridge the gap between innovation and practical application.
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This study explored the impact of task workload on virtual reality (VR) cybersickness. Cybersickness is a negative side effect of using VR to which many users are susceptible. Previous research on the impact on task workload on cybersickness has yielded no consistent relationships, but given that task workload requires attentional resources, it is worth further investigation of how a demand on attention might increase or decrease cybersickness. In this study, mental workload of participants (N = 151) was modified in three different task groups within the same virtual environment (VE). The Cybersickness Corn Maze VR testbed contained cybersickness-inducing stimuli and tasks with varying workload. The 0-Back group used a controller to select an object as a visual attention task. The 2-Back group performed the 2-Back memory detection task, using a controller to collect objects that matched the object presented two objects ago. The No-Task group passively moved through the environment and was not given a controller. Workload, cybersickness, dropout rate, presence, and task accuracy were compared across groups. Workload was found to be statistically significantly different in each group: highest in the 2-Back group, medium in the 0-Back group, and lowest in the No-Task group, validating the task design. Cybersickness in the 2-Back group was significantly higher than in the No-Task (140% higher) and 0-Back (54% higher) groups measured by the change in simulator sickness questionnaire (SSQ) total severity (Post SSQ - Pre SSQ). The rate of participants’ dropout due to cybersickness was significantly higher in 2-back (33%) as compared with 0-Back (10%), but 0-Back and No-Task dropout rates were not significantly different. These results indicate that 1) task workload affects cybersickness and 2) its effect could be based on a threshold of workload. Presence increased with the addition of a task but plateaued between the 0-Back and 2-Back groups, suggesting that presence can be affected by task workload but only to a certain extent. Task accuracy was shown to negatively correlate with cybersickness within the task groups. A relationship between workload and cybersickness was found and warrants further research into these concepts. This work highlights the need for task workload and attention to be studied as components of the mechanisms underlying cybersickness.
This article is published as Sepich, Nathan C., Angelica Jasper, Stephen Fieffer, Stephen B. Gilbert, Michael C. Dorneich, and Jonathan W. Kelly. "The impact of task workload on cybersickness." Frontiers in Virtual Reality 3 (2022): 943409. DOI: 10.3389/frvir.2022.943409. Copyright 2022 Sepich, Jasper, Fieffer, Gilbert, Dorneich and Kelly. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). Posted with permission.