The Fifth Sense: new gadget adds smell to VR headset experience!

Burlington, Vermont - A tech company has made it possible to smell your environment in virtual reality settings. The applications are endless, but it will certainly make gaming more realistic than ever.

Adding smell to television and virtual reality is something developers have been trying to do for decades. (Stock image).
Adding smell to television and virtual reality is something developers have been trying to do for decades. (Stock image).  © collage: 123RF/Roman Stetsyk & Konstantin Chagin

Virtual reality just got a lot more real. The technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent decades, bringing an experience that was previously only experienced by pilots in flight simulators and by race car drivers to anyone who has a smartphone.

Developers have been able to recreate the sight, sound, and even though through the use of haptic feedback, but Axios reports that OVR Technology has now taken virtual reality to the next level with scent.

"Smell is the factor that can create a truly human experience in virtual reality," said OVR CEO Aaron Wisniewski. Wisniewski was a trained scent expert before he co-founded OVR.

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Where other companies have tried to achieve smell-success, OVR's ION attachment is "the most accurate and precise on mask scent device available," according to the website.

"The Architecture of Scent® framework translates VR movements and inputs into real-time scent output. Our patented technology allows for .1 millisecond bursts of scent and can change between scents in 20 milliseconds."

A first-person shooter game might include the metallic scent of spent cartridges, and a multi-player game focused on agriculture might include the smells of plants, rain, and farm animals. Simulators for real-life jobs could include scent for practice scenarios, such as smelling smoke and handling a fire during astronaut training, for example.

The ION unit generates scents using nine "scent actuators with interchangeable cartridges" that work similarly to how mixing the three printer ink colors provides a variety of different shades. The OVR Library can mix and generate over 250 scents.

You can even run in VR omni-directional treadmills

There is no word on when the feature will be available for games, as it is up to game developers to choose what scents to pair with different game scenes. OVR also says custom scents are possible.

The company has been working with two Australian artists to develop a VR experience titled Shifting Homes about climate change that will premiere at the Venice Biennale this weekend, and include smells like rain, and fire, to match various scenes.

Cover photo: collage: 123RF/Roman Stetsyk & Konstantin Chagin

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