Why VR in Your Car Might Not Give You Motion Sickness

It’s all about synchronization

  • Holoride is partnering with Audi to bring virtual reality entertainment to car passengers. 
  • The VR technology is intended to reduce motion sickness. 
  • The first VR headset that will support the holoride system is the lightweight HTC Vive Flow.
The HTC Vive Flow and a smartphone displaying the holoride logo sitting on an automobile passenger seat.

HTC / Holoride

Long automobiles rides may soon get less boring with the chance to play virtual reality (VR) games in a passenger seat—and you might not even get car sick.  

The company holoride, whose promise is "turning vehicles into moving theme parks," recently announced that it's bringing VR headsets to some Audi SUVs and sedans this summer. The company claims it can cut down on the motion sickness that plagues both everyday car riders and those using VR. 

"Typically when passengers consume visual media in a moving vehicle, such as watching a movie or reading a book, motion sickness arises because what they're viewing is not matching the movement of the car," Rudolf Baumeister, the director of marketing & communications at holoride told Lifewire in an email interview. "At holoride, we've developed our technology so that the real world and virtual world are synched."

Smooth Rides

In June, Audi models with the company's MIB 3 infotainment system will ship with the necessary software to sync with Holoride-compatible headsets. The holoride system mixes backseat passengers' physical world with augmented reality for games that mimic the motion of the actual car. 

The VR headset hooked up to an Audi will rely on the vehicle's motion data from several sensor sets such as acceleration, steering, and wheel ticks. The connection will be enabled wirelessly via the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard.

Baumeister said the technology reduces motion sickness thanks to its close connection to what's happening outside. 

"This means that what you see and what you feel lineup with almost no latency—this reduces motion sickness," he added. "In fact, three times more people have reported having no symptoms of motion sickness at all when experiencing a holoride. This does not mean that we're eliminating motion sickness, but we're actively helping to reduce it for people who are prone to it. As a result, being in transit becomes time well spent."

The system is brand-agnostic, which means other automakers can support it. The software to build virtual-reality content for cars is also open-source, allowing developers to create content. 

The first VR headset that will support the holoride system is HTC's Vive Flow. The headset is lighter than most of its competitors at 189g and is said to be comfortable to wear. HTC says the dual-hinge design and soft face gasket make VIVE Flow easy to put on, take off and fold down into a compact footprint. And the wide viewing angle of the Flow is intended to deliver a cinematic screen to enjoy content on, whether that's gaming or TV and films.

A teen in the back seat of a car using the holoride system with HTC Vive VR glasses.

HTC / holoride

"Paired with holoride's impressive tech, you'll be able to turn car rides into virtual amusement parks," Shen Ye, the global head of hardware at HTC VIVE, said in a news release. "We're very excited to work with holoride in shaping the future of passenger entertainment."

Real Motion, Virtual Fun

Virtual reality could spice up long car rides, Venkatesh Alagarsamy, a VR expert with the company Fingent told Lifewire in an email interview. 

"Every journey would be a memorable one if the car ride turns out to be exciting not only for drivers but also for co-passenger, particularly when the route they take doesn't seem to be picturesque," he added. "This opens up a new avenue that can bring in a theme park riding experience, scenic, interactive routes, and more fun."

Future car rides that feature virtual reality could even let passengers participate in the metaverse. 

"Meetings can be attended by sitting at the rear seat of a car with better immersive features," Alagarsamy said. "Immersive media content can be consumed during a drive, creative content that gels well with the topography of the travel. For example, while traveling across dry terrain, one can immerse themselves in the rainforest environment or enjoy the safari." 

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