A scent creator who allows you to “smell” invites himself into virtual reality
The Swedish team tested their invention in a virtual wine tasting game.
A compact device that synchronizes smells with a virtual reality (VR) system has been developed by Swedish researchers associated with the universities of Stockholm and Malmö.
This olfactometer, described as a real odor machine, can even be designed at home and at low cost using a 3D printer. It integrates directly into the controller of the virtual reality system (HTC Vive) and diffuses odors when the context lends itself to it.
The tool uses progressively adjustable valves that control the intensity of odors. This makes it possible to create more nuanced blends from a basic set of four fragrances.
Smell Maker integrates directly with the VR system controller.
It even allows secret combinations of smells not requested by the player to appear in certain specific virtual contexts.
The diffusion of odors by the olfactometer may involve active sniffing by the user. The latter can also probe an object in virtual space for recreational or therapeutic purposes to release a scent.
We used the opening of the HTC controller Vive as a channel for the diffusion of scents in the hand, thus linking physical odors to a synthetic environment, notes Simon Niedenthal, researcher in digital interaction and games at the University of Malmö.
The Swedish team tested their invention in a virtual wine tasting game. The player moves through a virtual wine cellar and must take different virtual wine glasses to guess the aroma. The scent dispenser attached to the system controller releases a scent when the player lifts the glass.
The player moves through a virtual wine cellar and must take different virtual wine glasses to guess the aroma.
“The ability to shift from a passive sense of smell to a more active sense of smell in the virtual universe paves the way for the development of entirely new game mechanics based on #x27;smell and based on players' movements and judgments.
— Simon Niedenthal, University of Malmö
Games that feature the device may also become more difficult as players improve. This means that the scent creator could even be used to train wine tasters or perfumers, says psychologist Jonas Olofsson, from the University of Stockholm, and lead author of this work, the details of which are published in the International Journal of Human – Computer Studies (in English).
All codes, plans and instructions for creating the olfactometer are available online, as is the code for the virtual wine tasting game.
For people who lost their sense of smell after COVID-19, new technology may represent an opportunity to regain their sense of smell through game-based training, believes M .Olofsson.