Bob has just invented a fantastic device which, in a nutshell, can apply forces to the fluids in the inner ear. Immediately, he wondered what would happen if he paired this with a VR rig.

If a person is suspended in some sort of harness so they can't move around (and fall over; liability, you know), would such a device make it possible to "trick" the user into feeling that they are experiencing (or not experiencing) forces? For instances, could Bob create a racing simulation in which the player feels the vehicle take off, bank around corners, and come to a sudden stop? Could he create a microgravity simulation?

...or would other inputs (e.g. the way the player's limbs move) give conflicting "signals" such that all the rig does is make the player lose his or her lunch?

(Basically, this is an idea I had for "better" VR in a setting that has "magic". Unfortunately, this "magic" has a sharply limited energy budget; moving a lot of mass is impractical. Also, actually applying high forces to someone probably isn't the best idea.)

  • $\begingroup$ Do you want the person to remain perfectly still but THINK they are leaning over, jumping up, falling backwards, and such? Current simulators give the experience of accelerating by tilting the entire contraption up, forcing the person into their seat, and giving a VISUAL signal tat they are accelerating. But the inner ear clearly tells the person they are tilted, not horizontal. If they close their eyes, they are back to reality. In your method the VR endures even if the eyes are closed. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 1:21

2 Answers 2


This would be an improvement over current VR, but still not total immersion.

Current VR systems override the senses of sight and hearing. In addition, you're proposing an override the sense of balance. You still have to contend with feeling (and, to a lesser degree, smell, etc.).

Your harness will exert constant forces on the body, no matter which way they're supposedly falling. This will help break the illusion.

Similarly, you'd expect to feel air rushing past you when falling. A lack thereof would break the illusion.

However, this would still be a major improvement. If you're not trying to put people in the Matrix, just make immersive video games, you will see improvements! (However, just like in real life, the more immersive the VR, the more potential for things to confuse the body and cause disorientation. Make sure you have everything synced up perfectly, and maybe keep a mop bucket handy, just in case.)

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it's clearly not total immersion. What I'm trying to find out, though, is would it be an improvement at all, or would the "mixed messages" just be a guaranteed way to induce nausea. Anyway, interesting thoughts; thanks! (I might ask some follow-up questions... This is "magic", so I can possibly add additional effects, especially if I can "fake" things either with mundane means or on a small energy budget. It doesn't take much to apply force to the inner ear...) $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 1:23
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Theorizing here, but I don't think that the "mixed messages" you're talking about here would be an issue for most people. At worst, it could be a little disorienting, but the brain already can handle a good bit of disorientation, as proven in current VR. The brain can just ignore the inputs it doesn't need at the moment. Now, if the magic was providing contradictory or unsynched messages with the headset, that could be disorienting. Just guessing, though. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ @WayfaringStranger You are correct. VR kinetosis is a thing and the gravity simulators for pilot / astronaut training are very known for causing nausea even in people who don't normally suffer from kinetosis $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ @JulianaKarasawaSouza, that sounds like relevant and useful information. Have any sources? $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Matthew scientific reviews on VR Sickness causes / measurements and on centrifuge artificial gravity $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 14:21

Some things only need visual imput to be simulated other things need more than that.

To feel like falling you only need your vision to be fooled.

But when you are actually falling for real, you will notice the intestine and guts inside you moving around and almost making you throw up.

And as you catch speed you will also feel the blood in your veins meeting resistance.

If you want the experience to be completely 100% accurate make them accelerate and then suddendly catch them with harnesses and bands so they don't actually break a bone for real when they stop mid air.

If you leave visual illusion alone, it is enough to make it 90% real.

Not gonna post videos, you can google them but there is proof that the human brain can feel pain in fake limbs made of plastic if they are fooled visually, they can feel sexual pleasure without actually touching but only visual illusion and they can feel the wind on their skin as they think they are falling, even if they are not actually falling down.

The only things you can't fool are the guts and blood suffering from acceleration.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding settings Settings. Please take our tour and refer to the help center as and when for guidance as to our ways, enjoy the site. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ I have to disagree with this. I might wince when my player gets thrown around the room in a game, but it's not the same as feeling the acceleration of a vehicle taking a tight corner or catching air time. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 1:30

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