Kyle Orland, for Ars Technica:
Offering a fixed object that doesn’t shift as you move around a virtual world has been shown to help anchor many VR users, reducing the apparent difference between visual and sensorimotor stimuli that can lead to simulation sickness. That’s useful for VR experiences that can insert a virtual cockpit or vehicular frame around the user. A virtual nose, though, has the potential to be much more generalizable to any VR experience that takes place from a first-person perspective.
The Purdue study divided 43 undergraduate volunteers into two groups. The first group went through two unmodified virtual reality demos on Oculus Rift development kits, while the other went through the same demos with the virtual nose placed where a real nose would appear in front of the environmental view. The “nasum virtualis” group lasted an average of 94.2 seconds longer in a simulated walk-around on a Tuscan villa before feeling sick and lasted 2.2 seconds longer on average in a roller coaster simulation.
Makes sense that throwing a little “dashboard” into the field of view would provide some reassuring context, given the deprivation of (or latency among) some of the other senses. Having said that, now I have to stop seeing my nose everywhere I look!