Bring scent to the virtual universe

The olfactory technology will enable virtual reality (VR) wearers to smell scents in a 3D world. 

Inside the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco (USA) is taking place a special exhibition exploring the potential of technology for the sense of smell. Entering the museum, visitors will pass through a corridor displaying olfactory devices, such as voice-controlled essential oil diffusers, which periodically emit scents to remind people with dementia. eating right at the right time, or a USB-integrated line with the function of emitting a scent when the wearer’s heart rate reaches 110 beats / min … and of course indispensable virtual reality (VR) glasses to help the wearer smell fragrant.

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The scent makes the experience in the metaverse world more real

The secret lies in the chemical container mounted inside the glasses, Bluetooth connectivity, helping the wearer to smell the smell. Its name is ION, a product of the company OVR Technology.

OVR CEO Aaron Wisniewski said: “Scent has to be part of the metaverse ‘s evolution , or else we’re limiting the metaverse’s potential. Scent has a profound effect on defining who we are. , how we feel, what we do, what we buy and who we love”.

OVR’s “secret weapon” box is stocked with nine chemical compounds, which combine to create hundreds of scents. Popular scents like “strawberry” or “chocolate” are fairly simple to recreate, but creating a scent like “beach” requires a more complex process, requiring a combination of scents and scents. sand, sea breeze and smell… sunscreen.

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OVR Technology’s scent boxOV R

Included with the ION box is a special software, which makes the device compatible with games created on Unity and Unreal Engine. Wisniewski hopes to release a consumer version in 2023.

In the past, many people have sought to research olfactory technology. Since the 1960s, a system called Smell-O-Vision has been around to introduce scents into movie theaters. The inventors first used the system in the movie Scent of Mystery . Thirty different scents were injected into audience seats in the theater, and these scents were released to the movie’s soundtrack.

Even so, the Smell-O-Vision system quickly died prematurely. For many years, the sense of smell was considered secondary to sight or hearing. In 2018, a survey of British teenagers found that 64% would rather lose their sense of smell than lose their smartphone .

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The Smell-O-Vision System in the 1960sGETTY IMAGES

OVR is one of many companies that are entering the field of digital scents. In the UK, the company OW Smell Digital has raised $ 1.2 million to develop a service “Photoshop for smell” based on artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing. In Spain, the company Olorama Technology develops a library of 400 scents, which come in special boxes. These boxes will emit odors when activated by the user’s voice.

But starting a business in this industry is not easy. The Feelreal company once raised capital for a multi-sensory VR mask product in 2015, but the project “sinks” in 2020. Or the Japanese company Vaqso compared to its ambition to put scent devices into VR glasses since 2017. has also not updated the website for many years.

“It’s an interesting technology but not a compelling business model ,” said Christina Ku, an investor at Docomo Ventures.

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Vaqso’s smelly VR glasses project has to be “covered” for a long timeVAQSO

But with the development of multi-sensory technology, more and more devices integrate the olfactory feature. In 2021, Amazon received a patent for a scent recognition application, installed in the Ring doorbell. In 2019, Google’s Brain Team claimed to have successfully designed a neural network that can accurately evaluate scents at the molecular level.

Today, olfactory stimulation technology has been an important part of the metaverse’s engineers, designers, and architects.

The olfactory technology is also useful for therapeutic facilities. Ascendant New York – a substance disorder treatment clinic used OVR Technology’s Inhale Wellness platform to bring patients into beautiful natural surroundings through VR glasses and smell the scents in that world.

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Aromatherapy benefits many patientsSCREEN CAPTURE

In the lab of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Innovative Technology (USA), veterans with post-traumatic disorder will experience the scents created by OVR through VR exposure therapy.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when the corona virus weakened the sense of smell, many people began to perceive scent differently. Scents can evoke memories or awaken biological responses. For example, the fragrance emanating from Japanese plum blossoms can activate the sympathetic nervous system, improving one’s mood. Therefore, it would be remiss if the metaverse did not provide users with an olfactory experience.

Metaverse will be built by software engineers, who, despite their expertise in their work, lack the knowledge of scents. Aware of this, they invited experts in different fields such as fashion, architecture… to participate in the process of building a virtual universe. Perhaps soon, recruiting “scent specialists” will become part of the metaverse recruitment craze.