Visual, auditory or tactile sensations are key to a complete virtual reality immersion. Now, a scientific team has gone a step further and developed a small interface that allows users to smell different scents, such as rosemary, mojito or pancakes, and durian while using this technology.
Its description is published in the journal Nature Communications and those responsible suggest that future research could allow users to detect odors in video games, 4D movies and virtual teaching environments.
And it is that the devices can generate odors quickly and precisely in a localized area and connect wirelessly to virtual reality worlds to offer the user “an immersive and more realistic experience.”
Recent advances in virtual reality technologies accelerate the creation of a three-dimensional virtual world “seamless to offer a state-of-the-art social platform to humans,” the authors comment in the article.
“Equally important as traditional visual, auditory, and tactile sensations, smell exerts physiological and psychological influences on humans.”
Human-machine interface systems have already been developed to simulate vision, sound and touch in virtual reality, but designing a system for smell has been challenging, according to a journal summary.
Current olfactory interface designs have bulky formats using liquid perfume bottles or rigid virtual reality headsets, with cables limiting their feasibility.
Portable scent generators that are lightweight, flexible, cordless and equipped with a wide selection of scent types and programmable scent intensities have yet to be created.
An olfactory feedback system with skin interface and wireless programming capability is presented here, the authors summarize in their article.
The team led by researchers from the City University of Hong Kong designed two portable wireless olfactory interface formats.
Using millimeter-scale odor generators, the first format adheres directly to the skin under the nose with two scent options, and the second is a soft mask capable of generating nine different scents.
The authors demonstrated their ability to personalize with a selection of 30 different types of scents, such as pineapple, ginger, green tea, caramel and sweet.
The tiny scent generators contain scented paraffin, which can be heated to release specific scents quickly (in as little as 1.44 seconds) and precisely in a localized area.
The scientific team suggests several applications for research, including the transmission of olfactory messages as an alternative communication method, the activation of emotional memories, the control of human emotions and the improvement of user interaction in virtual reality worlds. EFE