I keep reading that the Virtual Boy causes people to have headaches. Is this true or urban legend? I'm curious to hear from people who have actually used the unit. If you think it does, any explanation as to why that might be?
Bill, 3d images can be rather easily achieved when the head and position of a person is tracked and an image on a regular computer monitor is modified according to changes in the person's position in relation to the screen. The human brain although complex can easily be fooled into thinking that it is a true 3d image on the screen.
The same thing can be achieved by displaying 3 images from the same object in a different perspective on three sides of a cube: the bottom, one side and the back. Your brain will make a 3d image pop up floating in mid air inside the cube. Attach some head tracking technology and you'll have a true 3d perception - easy as that.
You don't want any foreign objects attached to your central nervous system, the risk of infection or toxicity is just too great. Holodeck technology will be the best thing with holograms and the way it is projected responding to the person inside the projection room/holo deck. It'll be a few years yet I bet.
Editor / Pixelator - Armchair Arcade, Inc.
I was going through my pile of magazines to clean up the recent ones a bit for recycling and in a not-too-old EGM, they basically said that anything that blocks your regular peripheral vision will cause you problems. Makes sense to me, as when I do anything like that on any of the aforementioned systems, headsets and glasses, I'm only OK in the short-term. Obviously the implication is a point I made earlier - that the only way for this stuff to be effective for continuous use, i.e., gaming purposes, is to create the effect independent of anything the observer has to do themselves. The best way to accomplish this would be to make the depth-of-field in the display, either with multiple screen layers or some type of holographic projection. Obviously with the advent of flexible displays, multiple screen layers and viable holography, we could make a wonderful recreation of the holy grail Star Trek TNG holodeck, sans the physical interaction. I think even that could be simulated by wearing a mesh suit full of electrical stimulation sensors (meaning when I touch a holographic projection, the sensors on the gloves make my fingers feel like I'm touching the item). This can also be achieved through direct brain/spine interfacing. This obviously presumes that we haven't developed a way to directly interface with the brain to the point where we can simulate "dreams" that for every human who does it seems as real as real life a lot of the time. If you can create virtual dreams, then all the other stuff would probably be moot. At the same time though, that's dangerous territory to be messing with without perfect understanding, so I'd rather go for the simulation environment and more "passive" sensory stimulation...
Bill is right. Nausea can and will occur in people using VR headsets because the information received from the eyes doesn't match the information received from the balancing organs in the ears. Balance is kept using both optical and gnostic information. People susceptible to differences in this information are prone to car-sickness or dizziness whilst using VR sets or playing FPS on a big screen.
VR headsets need to be adjusted to fit an individual's physique. So you don't have to overstrain your eyes etc. The Virtual Boy and other VR headset devices often have limited adjustability thus they won't fit some portion of the population.
On the Mac there is a good Virtual Boy Emulator that you can use with those typical red/green red/blue 3d glasses. It was the most pleasurable VR Boy gaming experience I ever had. Try it if you get a headache from the real thing!
Editor / Pixelator - Armchair Arcade, Inc.
I don't believe it's urban legend. It can also make you queasy and make your eyes tired. I obviously have one and have used it quite extensively, though not for a few years now. It suffers from the same problem as anything that you either put over your eyes or head and immerse your field of view in a digital screen--it's just not a natural state for a person to be in. Perhaps you could build up something of a resistance over time, but the reality is I don't know if that's possible or you'd even want to put in the time necessary. I know me personally I have a particular nauseousness with VR headsets, especially ones with lower frame rates (for instance, I had a hell of a time on the Aladdin magic carpet simulator several years back at Disney World in Florida). Of course I am susceptible to certain forms of motion sickness anyway. Regardless, as I've always maintained, the ideal form of 3D or VR is one that does not require special glasses or devices. Regardless, be it the Virtual Boy, the 3D visor for the Vectrex, the 3D shutter glasses for the SMS, the 3D shutter glasses for the Famicom, etc., I can only use them in short doses for the very reasons described above. I enjoy the novelty and quirkiness of the technology, but it is NOT the type of stuff for long play sessions and may never be...
By the way, I also have this, which was a super low budget pseudo-VR headset: http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/314 . I have yet to open the packaging though!