How Oculus’ “groundbreaking” new VR display avoids causing nausea, headaches and fatigue

Oculus Research, the R&D arm of the VR company that produces the Rift, announced a new type of “groundbreaking” display that could ease the way current VR works against the nature of our eyes. The “Focal Surface Display”, as the company is calling it, could put an end to the ‘hangover time’ reported by early VR enthousiasts after extensive use.

The biggest problem stems from the fact that your eyes are not actually seeing a three dimensional object, but a flat surface that uses a simple technique that tricks the brain into thinking it’s seeing 3D. This trickery puts strain on the brain and leads to things like nausea, headaches and fatigue – hence, the term ‘hangover’.

The official term for the cause is the so-called “vergence-accommodation conflict.” It sounds complicated, but is actually very simple. Vergence is the term used to describe how you go more cross-eyed when looking at nearby objects, and accommodation is the job your lenses do to properly focus light on your retina for objects at different distances. Our eyes and brains are trained to do both automatically and at the same time.