Virtual reality (or VR for short) is the new shiny thing on the tech market and is gaining rapid momentum as a promising innovation.
VR is pegged to potentially open up a whole new world for us on how we communicate, learn, and entertain ourselves. It is also said to revolutionize human knowledge and impact everything from our delivery of education to how we watch movies and more.
The high-tech VR headsets are now available everywhere and more and more mainstream tech manufacturers are making their versions of it to flood the market with this brand new technology.
In this article, we take a look at VR, the radiation associated with it, other problems that VR can bring about, and what we can do to protect ourselves against this menace.
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The effect of VR goggle radiation
As we move forward with the speed of light on this new tech, it is surprising that no discussion has been had on the health and safety risks of using the headset.
If you consider the fact that you are effectively strapping that thing over your eyes and ears, it is kind of mind-boggling to think that no detailed studies have been done to accurately find out what implications it might have on our health given it emits radiation and is so close to our heads.
We know for a fact that VR headsets emit large amounts of radiation. It is necessary because that is how it communicates with the main console (be it your gaming console, cellphone, or TV from where you’re streaming content).
Most of that radiation is RF, being used to encrypt large packets of data for the real-time relay. The VR headset sends and receives thousands of such radiation packets every second it is connected.
This is because it is necessary to enable a smooth user experience for you. The VR is placed over our eyes and ears and right next to our heads. The impact such large amounts of radiation have on our cerebral structure is serious.
These radiations can affect our physical and emotional wellbeing and we won’t have any way to undo the damages.
Wearable tech in general is known to potentially put the user at risk of harmful radiation. That is because these devices use radiation frequencies to establish wireless communication and connect with your other devices like smartphones or computers.
VR headsets are equipped with special sensors to do all of that seamlessly while allowing you to be immersed in the VR experience.
Virtual reality headsets also connect to smartphones which release radiation of their own.
We have countless studies at this point that indicate the fatal damage to reproductive systems in human beings if we are exposed to too much cellphone radiation.
There are a bunch of long term and short term side effects to it including mood swings, sleeping problems, and attention deficiency – all of which make cellphone radiation exposure a nightmare.
Now when you pair that up with a VR headset and expose yourself to double the amount of radiation, you can only imagine the grave harm you are doing to yourself, your body, and your overall wellbeing.
Radiation has been cited as a form of carcinogen, meaning a substance that is capable of causing cancer in living tissues. Thus you can imagine the grave seriousness of this.
If you still can’t comprehend the gravity of it all, the study essentially indicates that radiation is at par with other better-known carcinogens like cigarettes.
This means, even if you don’t smoke but use your phone a lot, you put yourself in the same risk bracket as someone who is a lifelong smoker. This is scary and dangerous and it reasons enough for everyone to stand up and pay attention.
A study done by the National Toxicology Program in 2017 further established this claim when they conducted tests on mice to study the effects of radiation.
It was concluded that mice that were constantly exposed to radiation were way more susceptible to cancer than the mice that were not exposed at all. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) cited wireless devices (especially cellphones and wearable tech) as possibly carcinogenic.
This is quite worrying and puts all wearable tech (including VR headsets) as an agent of harm.
Radiation exposure from VR headsets is pretty bad but that’s not all that’s there. There are multiple secondary effects of using VR headsets as well which we will discuss one by one down below.
Anxiety induced by VR
Virtual reality shot to fame because of its immersive viewing experience. However, this same experience can be triggering for some people, inducing stress or anxiety while wearing the headset.
Virtual reality is different because it doesn’t just show pictures, it momentarily transports the user to this new virtual world. And that can solicit all sorts of emotions that you wouldn’t otherwise get while looking at a picture on a screen.
For instance, footage of the war in virtual reality can leave viewers shocked, stressed and fearful because it feels as though it is happening to them in real-time.
This can be destabilizing and can seriously disturb one’s peace of mind. And it takes quite a while to get over this panic because the viewer experiences it from a firsthand point of view, meaning as if they are there in the scene while everything is happening.
Nausea while using VR
People often complain about feeling nausea while using VR. The simulated motions and realistic renders can seriously affect a person’s perceptions thus ringing about nausea and wooziness.
In fact, there are certain negative side effects of using VR that were uncovered by the neurophysics department at UCLA. In a study done by them, it was noticed that virtual reality was very unpopular among lab rats and it produced weird brain activity patterns that were not predictable.
It was also noted that while in VR environments, the lab rats performed on significantly lower neuron function which more than 60% of their brain neurons not firing at all.
This was an especially disturbing discovery since it meant being on VR for long can make our brains foggy and can bring about a whole host of neurological problems which is completely unnecessary.
It is therefore recommended that while using VR, users take regular breaks and get some fresh air. This is so that the brain and body is not put under too much stress at once while using the VR headset.
How to protect against VR radiation
There are several anti-radiation products out there in the market that offer superlative protection against all kinds of radiation from all sorts of devices.
But unfortunately, we are yet to come up with a product that can thwart the risk of radiation from a VR headset.
The usual tips on how to safely use the device doesn’t work either because the headset is right over your eyes and super close to your head. Thus the best way to protect against it is to not use it at all.
I know this is not the most useful tip but it is the most effective. And so far it is the only way that you can stop radiation from VR headsets to affect you in any way.
Sure the tech looks tempting but it is not worth the risk, especially when you know it can singlehandedly increase your risk of contracting chronic conditions including cancer.
Will I be safe if I buy an expensive VR headset instead of a cheap one?
You will certainly see a difference in the quality of your visuals and audio but safety-wise it won’t be much of an upgrade.
All VR headsets irrespective of price are made to communicate wirelessly with your other smart devices. This means they will all emit radiation which is detrimental to your health.