Article accepted to ACM

Driving with the Fishes: Towards Calming and Mindful Virtual Reality Experiences for the Car

March 4, 2019

We present the use of in-car virtual reality (VR) as a way to create calm, mindful experiences for passengers and, someday, autonomous vehicle occupants. Specifically, we describe a series of studies aimed at exploring appropriate VR content, understanding the influence of car movement, and determining the length and other parameters of the simulation to avoid physical discomfort. Overall, our quantitative and qualitative insights suggest calm VR applications are well suited to an automotive context. Testing combinations of VR content designed to provide the participant with a static or dynamic experience versus stationary and moving vehicle modes, we find that a simulated experience of diving in the ocean while in a moving car elicited significantly lower levels of autonomic arousal as compared with a static VR plus stationary car condition. No significant motion sickness effects were subjectively reported by participants nor observable in the data, though a crossover interaction effect reveals how incongruence between the movement of the car and movement in VR could affect nausea. We conclude with recommendations for the design of calming and mindful VR experiences in moving vehicles.

Full article: