Metaverse making you sick? Chew some gum

Virtual Reality
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If we're ever really going to live for hours at a time inside the Metaverse, we'll have to be able to keep our lunch down. And some researchers say chewing gum could do the trick.

The great thing about virtual reality and our future in the Metaverse is that it's an immersive, 360-degree experience. It can be tremendous fun solving puzzles in a virtual car or playing tennis against virtual opponents around the world. But some experiences that include running, fighting, or, as I've found, flying an airplane can induce nausea.

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I'm lucky in that it never lasts long. I can just focus on one virtual object and quell the rising bile. I know others are not so lucky and strapping on a VR helmet is akin to stepping onto a wildly rocking boat without the benefit of Dramamine.

Now a team of researchers in Germany has found that chewing gum can help alleviate these symptoms. In a study performed last year, participants took a 15-minute VR helicopter flight (instead of passengers, they played the part of crewmembers). Each of the 77 participants was assigned to a different control group. There were those without gum, those chewing peppermint-flavored gum, and those chewing ginger-flavored gum.

The results were, well, Bubblicious. Researchers found that chewing gum effectively reduced VR-induced motion sickness.

Instead of getting sick while flying a VR helicopter, the mechanical, noisy, stimulating gum-chewing interfered with whatever would normally set off the participants' inner-ear or vestibular system (the thing most responsible for motion sickness). Researchers also noted that gum chewing distracts from motion sickness, as does, they believe, the pleasure of enjoying the flavor of yummy gum.

Ultimately, the findings were not entirely surprising for the research team, which noted that they support similar results from a 2017 study that involved using gum to combat postoperative nausea.

While few of us spend enough time yet in VR to need some kind of nausea palliative, the Metaverse vision in which we conduct many of today's common activities in a virtual space may mean we either evolve to combat nausea on our own ... or start chewing a lot more gum.

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.