Scientists Built Real-Life Smell-O Vision for Virtual Reality
Source: Fast Company

Chinese scientists have developed the world’s first streamlined VR olfactory system, adding an entirely new sense to virtual and augmented reality landscapes to make them feel much more real.

So Small to Fit Under a User’s Nose

The olfactory system developed by scientists from the City University of Hong Kong and Beihang University led to the first portable and flexible VR-smelling device.

Mounted on the base of a user’s nose, it allows them to properly perceive the scent of various items in a virtual environment.

According to a blog post by the City University of Hong Kong, the device is made out of lightweight substrate material and infused with two odor generators (OGs).

Each OG is made out of paraffin wax and comes with its scent. Alongside the paraffin wax, the portable system is infused with a wireless thermal actuator controlled by the users’ VR system.

Once the VR system activates the device, the thermal actuator makes the paraffin wax melt due to heat.

This then causes the wax to release the inherent odor in it. The VR system will also execute the command to cool off the wax and make it solid again when the user wants to stop using the thermal actuator.

After this is done, the OG stops producing any scent.

Source: The Spoon

Even though the device becomes hot once activated, the scientists state that it is completely safe for use following human trials.

According to the team, a group of 11 volunteers tested the device in their facility, and approximately 93% of them could accurately recognize the scents generated by the system in a VR environment.

The most basic of the olfactory system comes with only two OGs, with the most complex having nine OGs altogether.

Each of the OG comes with its distinctive scent, and the nine OGs are fitted into a flexible face mask for VR users.

For now, the scientists stated that they have been able to replicate 30 different scents, including rosemary, pineapple, and cinnamon, amongst others.

One of the principal scientists in creating the smell-o-vision device, Dr. Yu Xinge, spoke on the latest development.

He stated that the fast response rate in releasing odors, high odor generator integration density, and the fact that it only requires two wearable devices provides great use cases for the future of olfaction interfaces in various applications.

Smell’O’Vision is Only One Part of the New VR/AR Trend

While some researchers on the fringe are focusing on introducing new senses and experiences into the virtual reality equation, most of the market is just trying to improve the basics.

The VR/AR ecosystem has been in operation for over half a decade, with many companies fighting to provide a user-friendly experience for their customers.

However, the intended adoption has been slow across the board due to the lack of a viable market structure and the tech to back it up.

That is all changing as Apple Inc. has recently dived into the VR landscape.

At its recent WWDC event on June 5th, Apple announced it would release its Vision Pro headsets. These headsets are designed to render a VR environment as accurately as possible.

The Vision Pro headset uses a new operating system (OS) called VisionOS, specifically developed for this purpose. Once it launches in early 2024, users will be able to enjoy a three-dimensional interface.

The VisionOS is powered by its new generation R1 chips which can process videos, apps, images, and sensors within 12 milliseconds – making it entirely lag-free and providing users with real-time experience.

VisionOS is powered by its new generation R1 chips
Source: UploadVR

To boost adoption, the VR headset will also come with some of the most favorite apps developers are familiar with, including Unity apps, Adobe Lightroom, Zoom’s WebEx, and others.

Also, popular tools like Xcode, SwiftUI, and ARKit will be available.

This VR headset is made of concave alloy materials and fits snugly around the user’s face.

It can be controlled using the eyes, hands, and voice and has a unique Optic ID system that requires the owner’s iris to unlock it.

Apple’s entry into the virtual reality world has sparked a lot of interest in the computer-generated industry.

With these olfactory systems infused into the flow, users can better have a truly immersive experience in the augmented reality landscape.

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