Can VR Mess With Your Sense of Time?

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am choosing to participate in the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program. Why? Two reasons:

  1. After my recent guided tour of VU, I feel very strongly that this is going to be a successful and popular virtual world/MMO hybrid platform, and I want to be a part of it when VU launches their beta this summer. This is the very first blockchain-based virtual world that I actually feel excited about!
  2. As a Canadian citizen, I reside in one of the three countries where I am currently legally forbidden from purchasing VU tokens (the other two are the United States and China). This means that the only way I can legitimately earn VU tokens to use in this social VR space before the beta launch is via the VU ICO Partner Program.

I want you to know this up front: this blogpost is a promotion for VU, in exchange for VU tokens.  You can follow on this webpage to see how many VU tokens I have earned by completing tasks in this Partner Program if you wish (right now, I am at number two on the VU Token Leaderboard). There’s nothing stopping you from participating in this Partner Program yourself, and earning some VU tokens!

IMPORTANT: VU Tokens are not a real currency. They are ERC-20 based blockchain tokens intended to permit players of Virtual Universe exclusive access to digital assets within a VR game known as Virtual Universe (VU). They are a form of in-game virtual currency.  Virtual value attributed to the VU Token will be as a result of in-game efforts by players, and no future value is represented or guaranteed.


A recently published article by the team behind Virtual Universe, titled Let’s Do the Time Warp… In VR! raises an interesting question: can virtual reality actually mess with your sense of time?

There are countless reports from VR users that have experienced some level of time dilation after engaging in a virtual world. As users experience a state of flow and presence in that world — enabled by a realistic experience combined with engaging activities — their perception of real time can waver.

This fits the old adage that “time flies when you’re having fun.”

Research from a team led by Dr. Bruder of the University of Hamburg sheds some light on the biological causes of the time-warp phenomenon and how it can be manipulated. Their research noted that the body’s circadian rhythm, or body clock, is largely informed by cues known as zeitgebers. These zeitgebers give the human body an unconscious estimate of the actual real-world time, the most prominent being the sun and its movement through the day.

In a virtual world, particularly in VR, the user inhabits an avatar and has complete freedom and parity of movement. This allows us to play with these zeitgebers programmatically as a scene is rendered. Adjusting the speed of the sun’s cycle, or keeping the user busy with cognitive tasks were shown to have the greatest effects.

It’s an intriguing idea. Have you encountered time dilation—or another form of time distortion—in a VR headset? Sound off in the comments!


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