Can you shock your way out of VR-induced motion sickness?
If you paid any attention to Pocketnow’s CES 2016 coverage (and you did yourself a big disservice if you didn’t), you know that we had a lot of exciting virtual reality gear to check out. In addition to all the news about Oculus getting ready to ship, and the hands-on fun we had with the HTC Vive, we also checked out VR hardware from some new-to-us names like 3Glasses. And while it can be a lot of fun to lose yourself in a virtual world, that kind of immersion doesn’t always come without a cost (and we’re talking about neither the hit to your bank account buying these rigs can mean, nor all the hours of productivity you’re going to give up), as no matter how high-end the motion tracking, or how high the headset’s refresh rate, some users are just going to be super susceptible to motion sickness. ReliefBand Technologies thinks it has just the solution, and at CES this year we swung by the company’s booth to check out its ReliefBand electro-neuromodulation wristband.
A disposable version of the ReliefBand has been around for a while now, used by pilots and scuba-divers alike, but this one’s a new model with a replaceable battery. It’s a thin watch-like wearable that uses a pair of electrodes on its underside to deliver some gentle stimulation to your nervous system. The idea is that the pulses it generates help disrupt the way your body succumbs to motion sickness, helping to alleviate unwanted nausea.
We’ve heard of a lot of products that claim to offer similar relief, and all too often they work (or more precisely, don’t) via “woo” like magnetism or “energy points.” ReliefBand, on the other hand, is an FDA-cleared device, and while some studies have cast a little doubt on its usefulness, others suggest it’s the real deal. If motion sickness is a real problem for you, though, it might be worth a shot.
The wearable lets you set one of five degrees of stimulation; we only cranked it as high as level two, and could definitely feel the “shocking” effect. Really, that may be too strong a word, but you’ll certainly notice a tingle – maybe like licking a 9V battery.
The ReliefBand will start selling this quarter for about $90, and you’ll need to pair it with a special conductive gel sold alongside it. That may sound a little steep for a single-function wearable, but if it means the difference between getting to enjoy VR with the rest of us or feeling like hot death every time you try to slap a headset on, it might just start looking like a real bargain.
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