Researchers may have found a way to create smells in virtual reality: wearable odor-generators.
In a paper that was published today in Nature Communications, researchers from Beihang University in Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong described two different types of devices. The first is a wearable device that attaches directly to the skin under the nose. The soft mask is the other type. You can see them both in the videos below. The first can produce two scents, while the second can create as many as nine. Both generators use scented wax which can be heated for about 1.44 second to release the desired smell in a specific area.
Researchers were able create 30 different scents including pineapple, ginger, mojito and rosemary. Researchers must have a wicked sense of humor as durian is also listed. If you have never smelt a durian, the smell has been described as raw sewer, rotting meat, and worn gym socks.
virtual environments are largely odorless, even though current VR headsets simulate sight, sound, touch and other senses. It’s partly because there’s no elegant way to add smells to bulky VR equipment. The researchers hope that their version of the technology can be used in virtual environments, video games and 4D films to enhance user experiences. The researchers also proposed ideas like using scents to send alternative messages or trigger memory.
This is only one way to integrate scent into VR. Some companies have also tackled the issue, creating cartridges for headsets . Others are trying to add scents neckbands. It’s going to be some time before we can stop and smell virtual roses.