In March of 2014, news hit the press about Facebook, the top social media site buying Oculus VR. Everyone thought that Mark Zuckerberg was crazy. Gamers worldwide were furious and Facebook stocks dropped 10% after the news.
While the world went up in arms about a social media site buying a “virtual reality” company something caught my attention. It wasn’t the fact that Minecraft creator, Markus Persson pulled out of an Oculus Rift deal when he found out about the 2 billion dollar deal Oculus made with Facebook.
It was the fact that when Persson tried out the product for himself and claimed it gave him a headache and warned the product might cause vertigo for some.
Persson was not the only making these claims. On March 29, 2014, Nick Bilton from The New York Times stated, “and gamers claimed they felt nauseated after using the device.”
When I tried to get in touch with Mark Zuckerberg there was no reply. I then connected Facebook press connection; I informed them that I was a journalist looking into the health issues surrounding virtual reality products.
“People are reporting after trying the Oculus headset it caused headaches, disorientation and nausea with a growing concern for users to develop vertigo. What is Oculus doing about the situation and will it be fixed before billions of account holders on Facebook strap on the product?”
On March 31, 2014, Will Hodger, Account Director at Facebook replied, “I’m reaching out on behalf of Facebook in response to your question regarding Oculus VR products. We have no comment at this time.”
It would seem a company that just bought a 2 billion dollars business would want to know about any form of health issue, which could cost them in the end if millions suddenly get diagnosed with vertigo because of a product.
With Facebook not wishing to make a statement, I then communicated my concerns with Oculus. On April 1, 2014, “I was hoping someone might be able to shed some light on a growing concern.” I went into detail about the health issues in question and asked, “Is Oculus aware of these issues? In light of Facebook’s recent announcement; what is Oculus doing about the situation and will it be fixed before billions of account holders on Facebook strap on the product.”
Someone from Oculus did get in touch with me however; they did not find themselves in the position for the information provided to be quoted, as they were not a spokesperson for Oculus. My question there was, “Then why is this person answering Oculus media questions?”
Hoping the article would go no further I suspect, they tried to claim these issues as being old news and were enlightening me on how Oculus had made all these changes from Development Kit 1 to Development Kit 2, which is scheduled to be released in July of 2014.
Even with all the changes Oculus has reportedly made from what they are calling “simulation sickness“, it does not dismiss the account of a wide variety of complaints still on going.
Simulation sickness varies from vertigo in that vertigo causes disorientation one symptom, which does not fall under simulation sickness. Those with simulation sickness may experience headache, drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and sweating. No one case has come to light of someone reporting sweating or drowsiness after trying the product.
With vertigo, one may experience dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches and disorientation. While the world seems to think itself already for the future of virtual reality, flying cars and “beam me up Scotti”, we should be asking ourselves what types of health risks await us.
I have tried repeatedly to get that promised interview with Oculus however; it seems it won’t be happening anytime soon no one is getting back to me. They are most likely to busy getting ready for the release of their next product to be concerned with making a comment on the issues at hand.