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Optimising human performance by reducing motion sickness and enhancing situation awareness with an artificial 3D Earth-fixed visual reference

Author: Bos, J.E. · Houben, M.M.J. · Lindenberg, J.
Source:MAST Europe, Malmö, Sweden, 11-13 September 2012
Identifier: 463834
Keywords: Performance · Human performance · Operator performance · Seasickness · Airsickness · Motion sickness · Artificial horizon · Visual display · Healthy for Life · Healthy Living · Human · PCS - Perceptual and Cognitive Systems · BSS - Behavioural and Societal Sciences


Human performance has been shown to be negatively correlated with seasickness. By reducing crew, ship size, and hence redundancy, sickness induced risks increase exponentially. Although medication is effective, it also causes drowsiness. Non-pharmacological countermeasures are scarce, the most popular one being to look at the horizon. We exploited the latter by creating an artificial Earth-fixed matrix of 3D crosses, that can be used wherever outside views are scarce and visual displays are available. To test such a display we performed two experiments. In Experiment 1, 14 subjects completed a number of 20-minute trials in TNO’s Desdemona motion simulator reproducing a ship motion. The crosses were presented on a computer screen in the background of a demanding task, and on a projection screen in front of the participant. Sickness severity was rated at fixed intervals. In Experiment 2, 11 subjects completed a number of 20-minute trials in the same simulator, now reproducing an aircraft motion. No task was used in Experiment 2, but the display was extended by including a roller-coaster like track showing the trajectory to be followed ahead. Results of Experiment 1 showed that the anti-seasickness display did not interfere with the computer task per se, while it did reduce sickness due to ship motion, whether presented on the computer monitor or on the projection screen. In Experiment 2, sickness was further reduced from somewhat less than a factor of 2 when only showing the crosses (with respect to a c ontrol condition without any display), by over a factor of 4 when adding an anticipatory trajectory. These results allow for optimising operator performance and situation awareness at sea, as well as in the air and on land, as well as the performance of, e.g., troops having to perform right after a sickening transport.