Can Technology Help to Reduce the Impact of Motion Sickness?

At present, it is estimated that approximately 1 in 3 individuals worldwide is highly susceptible to bouts of motion sickness, which can range from mild to severe in intensity. While there are many different types of pills available for consumers that are known to treat the symptoms associated with motion sickness, innovative technologies are being developed that will help minimize the prevalence of the condition even more astutely. UK tech company Ricardo Innovations is one such a developer that has created a technology that can decrease the risk of motion sickness in autonomous vehicles while simultaneously promising a range of benefits for more conventional vehicles.

What exactly is motion sickness?

In order to fully appreciate the technologies aimed at reducing motion sickness, which is formally called kinetosis, consumes must first understand exactly what kinetosis is. According to Medical News Today, kinetosis is a common disturbance that originates in the inner ear. The disturbance is typically triggered by the repetitive motion of a vehicle or other similar movements that can disturb the balance within the inner ear. The symptoms of motion sickness, which include vomiting, nausea, and dizziness, surface when the body’s central nervous system gets mixed signals from the various sensory systems, such as the eyes, skin pressure receptors, joint and muscle receptors, and the inner ear.

Autonomous vehicles are more conducive to kinetosis

As autonomous and connected vehicles (CAVs) shift from being a mere vision towards a popular reality, consumer expectations point to a highly-comfortable and immersive traveling experience. During a typical journey, a passenger will be able to watch movies, read from a screen, work, and even engage in business discussions – all of which can trigger severe bouts of kinetosis.  Even reading a normal magazine or watching the scenery pass you by through a window has also been known to trigger a motion sickness episode, however, so care has to be taken when engaging in more traditional in-car activities as well. Ricardo has ascertained that finding a proven solution to this discomfort is pivotal in ensuring maximum consumer acceptance of CAVs in general.

Breaking down the research

A highly specialized research team at Ricardo was tasked with investigating both the basic causes as well as exacerbating factors of motion sickness and utilized it to create algorithms that are able to boost travel comfort as well as reduce the onset of motion sickness. In autonomous vehicles, the algorithms can be utilized in conjunction with the real-time acclimatization of sensory features such as aroma, light, and temperature control. It can furthermore also be used to influence the route taken in actions such as stopping, starting, overtaking, and cornering.  As far as both autonomous and standard vehicles are concerned, the developed software can prove to be very beneficial in determining the optimal suspension settings that will render every journey as enjoyable as possible.

Testing is an on-going effort

It was reported earlier this year that testing to help regulate the motion sickness algorithms using adult volunteers was already concluded. More data was, however, needed for individuals that fall in the 4 to 18-year-old range – the demographic that will, more than likely, end up benefiting most from the technology. Feeling sick while in motion can be especially distressing to children, as they are generally more prone to nausea, cold sweats, paleness, and other symptoms associated with the condition. Thankfully, most children seem to outgrow their motion sickness although some continue to experience symptoms well into adulthood. In order to cover all bases, research and testing will not cease until the team at Ricardo is completely satisfied that their technology will satisfy the needs of the target market.

Impressive technology is bound to attract attention

The technology developed by the team at Ricardo has attracted the attention of a number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that are in the business of developing both conventional as well as modern autonomous vehicles. Interest was also shown by manufacturers who focus their efforts on mobility-service products and service rendering. Due to this immense interest in the anti-motion sickness technology, there is bound to be a significant decrease in motion sickness experienced in both human-controlled and autonomous vehicles.

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Smartphone apps also join the war on motion sickness

Ricardo’s tech to combat motion sickness is without a doubt ground-breaking and will have a positive impact on the lives of many travelers. There are, however, other technologies as well that can also help someone prone to motion sickness deal with their condition swiftly and effectively.  Many of these technologies come in the form of smartphone apps, which is not surprising considering what a big influence mobile technology already has on our everyday lives. These apps, of which the following are just two examples, can both help prevent and treat bouts of motion sickness. 

Apps can stabilize balance in your inner ear

Nevasic is a popular medical audio application that provides stability to the balance receptors located within the inner ear. When balance is restored in the ear, the symptoms of motion sickness – including nausea and dizziness – are greatly alleviated. Nevasic produces specific stabilizing audio frequencies and pulses through music which makes it very easy to utilize. Another app that helps deal with motion sickness is the Anti Motion Sickness App which acts as a synchronizer that provides an optical guide to movements by displaying a range of semi-transparent images on the device’s screen. Watching these images makes it possible for your brain to synchronize the information from both your inner ear and your eyes in order to prevent the onset of this sickness. Both these apps are available for download on both Apple and Android devices and sport a great number of seemingly satisfied users.

Motion sickness has made traveling in a vehicle almost unbearable for countless individuals since vehicles were first invented. Thanks to various technological innovations a future without the limitations imposed by kinetosis may very soon become a reality.

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