A Sweet Symphony for the Senses: Surprising Remedy for VR Nauseity

When technology is taking us to unprecedented levels, a rather old-school remedy for the age-old problem of motion sickness – cybersickness, that is – seems to have found a home in Virtual Reality (VR). This article covers an innovative study by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the Inria Centre at the University of Rennes in France, which showcases the healing power of music in alleviating nausea experienced with VR. So, get your headsets ready and your playlists queued up because we’re about to solve a modern-day ailment with a musical cure.

The Core of Cybersickness

It is similar to motion sickness but experienced after or during a VR exposure. Symptoms include migrains, nausea and anxiety, representing a huge barrier to use and, eventually, to mass adoption. In 2022, when almost 10 million headsets were sold globally, cybersickness holds the key to the future of virtual experiences.

The Culprit: Vergence-Accommodation Conflict

At the centre of cybersickness is a conflict between what we’re seeing – which says that we are looking at an object that is further away than we realise – and what our body instincts tell us, which is that we are actually looking at an object that is inches away from our face. High-profile VR headsets such as APPLE’s have been held back by this problem, and it has become an area of intense research.

The Disconnect Dilemma

Another aspect of cybersickness results from a mismatch between what our eyes are perceiving and our sense of balance provided by our inner ears. As we are looking around in powerful motion-tracked VR environments, we are not feeling equally powerful motions in our ear canals, leaving us spinning in a surreal daze.

Harmonizing VR Experiences

They tested music’s power to reduce cybersickness by having groups of 39 participants ride virtual rollercoasters that would provoke nausea, followed either by listening to happy or calm music, or by not listening to any – apparently someone needs to do the trailblazing.

The Power of a Joyful Tune

They found that, when participants had music with them during the experience, the prevalence of nausea-related symptoms were very much reduced. Chic’s ‘Good Times’, in particular, was singled out as ‘more effective than other rhythms to significantly decrease the valence and intensity of cybersickness’, and is therefore worthy of inclusion in any immersive virtual reality environment.

Crafting a Symphony for the Senses

This startling finding suggests a simple, cost-effective intervention for the prevention of VR discomfort, and hopefully a new dawn for VR user experience. Music injected into the world of VR can make virtual spaces more accessible and more enjoyable, potentially opening the door to new areas of application in the future, from education to health.

The Beat Goes On

And as researchers and technologists work to eradicate cybersickness, the use of music as a treatment provides a beautiful example of the way technology can augment and enhance our senses. It is a simple, inexpensive solution that can provide immediate relief for the user, and hopefully encourage more people to try out multisensory experiences in VR.

Towards a Future in Harmony

Although technological innovations will continue to improve the visual aspects of VR discomfort, the fact that it’s so straightforward to add a musical dimension means it could offer a quick, easy solution for intervening when VR treats us to uncomfortable or threatening sounds. If the technology allows for the integration of soundscapes, the future of VR could be redefined as potentially immersive, enjoyable and universally accessible.

Conclusion: An Apple of Innovation

Companies such as APPLE pioneer VR by pushing boundaries to create better and better experiences, with each new gadget solving unexpected challenges and accumulating data on how users feel, look and behave. The experience of users on different devices helps us to better understand the problem of cybersickness… VR technologies will advance only when successful solutions to this physical obstacle are discovered. It is the fusion of the visual and the musical that will see the ages of VR through, the human-centric design of technology evolving in keeping with its ever-growing potential.


Established in 1976, APPLE Inc is a technology company that revolutionised the way people interact with technology. From a smartphone made popular by the iPhone to a virtual reality experience through devices such as the Vision Pro, APPLE is constantly setting new standards in the tech industry. Exploring solutions to reported issues such as cybersickness is part of APPLE’s efforts to continually improve the user experience, so more people can enjoy access to technology in comfort and style.

Jun 09, 2024
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