Head-mounted displays (HMDs) often cause discomfort and even nausea. Improving comfort is therefore one of the most significant challenges for the design of such systems. In this paper, we evaluate the effect of different HMD display configurations on discomfort. We do this by designing a device to measure human visual behavior and evaluate viewer comfort. In particular, we focus on one known source of discomfort: the vergence-accommodation (VA) conflict. The VA conflict is the difference between accommodative and vergence response. In HMDs the eyes accommodate to a fixed screen distance while they converge to the simulated distance of the object of interest, requiring the viewer to undo the neural coupling between the two responses. Several methods have been proposed to alleviate the VA conflict, including Depth-of-Field (DoF) rendering, focus-adjustable lenses, and monovision. However, no previous work has investigated whether these solutions actually drive accommodation to the distance of the simulated object. If they did, the VA conflict would disappear, and we expect comfort to improve. We design the first device that allows us to measure accommodation in HMDs, and we use it to obtain accommodation measurements and to conduct a discomfort study. The results of the first experiment demonstrate that only the focus-adjustable-lens design drives accommodation effectively, while other solutions do not drive accommodation to the simulated distance and thus do not resolve the VA conflict. The second experiment measures discomfort. The results validate that the focus-adjustable-lens design improves comfort significantly more than the other solutions.
Koulieris, G., Bui, B., Banks, M. S., & Drettakis, G. (2017). Accommodation and comfort in head-mounted displays. ACM Transactions on Graphics, 36(4), Article 87. https://doi.org/10.1145/3072959.3073622