Virtual reality so far fed our visual and audio senses. Now, a Burlington, Vermont-based startup has come up with something that can bring your olfactory senses to work too. OVR Technology, as the start-up is named, has set itself a simple goal, that of recreating that sense of smell in virtual reality exactly as it would in the real world.
All of it is made possible thanks to a palm-sized black cartridge sort of a thing that fits into a VR headset in such a manner that the cartridge is positioned over the nose. The cartridge, in turn, houses a series of vials of scents that have been developed by the OVR Lab. So, if it’s a rose that the user is experiencing in the virtual world, he or she will also get to have the scent of a rose.
This can play a vital role in allowing for a more wholesome and realistic virtual reality experience. The hardware is so designed that the user will get to experience the scent of the rose only when the flower is held close to the user and the smell will fade off once the flower is moved away, just as it happens in real life. The company said they are working on a program called Inhale where users will get to smell what they’d get when they visited places such as the seafront or a forest and so on.
As the Webur reported, the above technology can well be compared to the Smell-o-Vision tech that was attempted in the 50s and 60s in the last century and sought to offer viewers a sense of smell corresponding to what the scene was all about. So, if it’s about a scene where a lot of shooting s taking place, there would be machines that would spray odors like that of gun powder onto the viewers.
Of course, that was extremely rustic and it was hardly surprising it never worked as such. That however can’t put the fine folks at OVR Technology to get deviated from what they have set out to achieve. “The smell of your grandma, or the particular perfume of someone — I think those are very very powerful,” Judith Amores, a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School said. “It’s not the same as seeing the image.”
Of course, recreating that exact same smell in the lab using chemicals is never easy though the good thing is the company is unrelenting in its pursuit. There also is a vast segment where the technology can be applied. Those can range from soldiers getting a feel of what it might smell during actual combat. Similarly, firefighters can be trained in VR what it feels like fighting fires in real life, and the one thing, apart from audio and visuals, that can make the experience complete is a sense of smell. Also, both the above instances aren’t expected to fill the users with a pleasant smells too.
“When it does happen in real life, we have the kind of muscle memory to react appropriately,” Andrew Wisniewski, CEO and co-founder of OVR said of this training model. “We also have that kind of emotional and psychological memory, so we’re not overwhelmed by it.”
As it is, AR and VR is suddenly a craze and is attracting a lot of players in the segment. PriceWaterhouseCoopers have also predicted the segment reaching $1.5 trillion by 2030, a steep jump from the around $46 billion that it is valued at the moment. That should be attractive enough for companies like OVR to make a mark in this segment within its unique approach.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in the world of technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles as well, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. Motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot and maybe I’ll make a film sometime in the future.