Your VR Doesn’t Stink (Yet)

What does it smell like when the wheels heat up on that Formula 1 car you drive at night and on the weekends? You have no idea because the Virtual Reality experience that lets you do so doesn’t come with a nasal component. Yet.

Shown here is an olfactory device that works with Oculus Rift and other head-mounted displays. The proof of concept is hte work of [Kazuki Hashimoto], [Yosuke Maruno], and [Takamichi Nakamoto] and was shown of at last year’s IEEE VR conference. It lets the wearer smell the oranges when approaching a tree in a virtual environment. In other words, it makes your immersive experience smelly.

As it stands this a pretty cool little device which atomizes odor droplets while a tiny fan wafts them to the wearer’s nose. There is a paper which presumably has more detail but it’s behind a pay wall so for now check out the brief demo video below. Traditionally an issue with scent systems is the substance stuck in the lines, which this prototype overcomes with direct application from the reservoir. Yet to be solved is the availability for numerous different scents.

This build came to our attention via an UploadVR article that does a good job of covering some of the scent-based experiments over the years. They see some of the same hurdles we do: odors linger and there is a limited palette that can be produced. We assume the massive revenue of the gaming industry is going to drive research in this field, but we won’t be lining up to smell gunpowder and dead bodies (or rotting zombies) anytime soon.

The more noble effort is in VR applications like taking the elderly and immobile back for another tour of places they’ll never again be able to visit in their lives. Adding the sense of smell, which has the power to unlock so many memories, makes that use case so much more powerful. We think that’s something everyone can be hopeful about!

[Thanks Steve]

28 thoughts on “Your VR Doesn’t Stink (Yet)

  1. For folks who don’t yet have access to this fantastic device, you can accomplish a similar feat by attaching a hose with one end on the VR headset and the other end to your b.tt. Limited spectrum but you can definitely try extending palette with different cuisines.

    1. Did you click through to the UploadVR article? They link to a video where South Park makes a version of that at a con. This is a real life installation, not a cartoon episode.

      There must be some curve known to science where we get over the low-brow jokes and look at the tech seriously but I guess we’re not there quite yet.

        1. There is a good paper here on the bandwidth and speed of the olfactory sense. Obviously this only diminishes with age and injury.

          Time to smell: a cascade model of human olfactory perception based on response-time (RT) measurement

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3912348/

          I have read and thought about the topic, it is just that I concluded that it was not worth taking seriously as a potential product. So many problems and so little value/reward.

      1. A handful of decent Scifi writers describe stench in everything from ships to suits.
        I’m more interested in what else Iron Fist used the glowing hand for, but no one ever asked Danny. Maybe Southpark will go there.
        PS, the PORN industry drives technology NOT gaming.
        Regarding stench
        http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1276-6-things-movies-dont-show-you-about-life-submarine.html
        Everything stinks. It’s not just the flatulence (didn’t think of that, did you? Imagine your old dorm room, only there’s 20 guys in there and you can’t open the window for months) or the sweat, or the one guy who was allergic to the chemicals in the CO2 scrubbers, which gave him a skin rash that caused flakes of him to fall off constantly, but he was the only one technically qualified to operate it, so fuck it all, flakes ahoy, good buddy. The whole thing is a machine, and machines need oil. Oil stinks. God, does it stink. I stuffed dryer sheets in my pockets just to remind myself that there were better things in the world.
        But no, let’s not get distracted. The farts are what’s important here: After two weeks, the milk would be gone. Three, and there were no more eggs. The freezer was only so big, and most of the stuff in there was for special occasions. Special occasions like the time a guy had a heart attack and they had to make room in the freezer for his body, so there was a somber memorial meal with the food they pulled out. It didn’t happen on my sub, thank fucking God, but it did happen …
        Anyway, it all boils down to most of what we ate being canned food. Bad canned food. You know what goes well with 120 men in an airtight container? Suspicious, off-brand canned food. Every day was an experiment in how much methane poisoning a man can take before he becomes more fart than man.

        VR Yawn

        Virtual Reality 1991

        1996 Phil Donahue HP Virtual Reality

        History of Virtual Reality – Reality Check
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Sutherland
        From 1965 to 1968, Sutherland was an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard University. Work with student Danny Cohen in 1967 led to the development of the Cohen–Sutherland computer graphics line clipping algorithm. In 1968, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, he created the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system, named The Sword of Damocles.

          1. n 1968 he co-founded Evans and Sutherland with his friend and colleague David C. Evans. The company has done pioneering work in the field of real-time hardware, accelerated 3D computer graphics, and printer languages. Former employees of Evans and Sutherland included the future founders of Adobe (John Warnock) and Silicon Graphics (Jim Clark).

            From 1974 to 1978 he was the Fletcher Jones Professor of Computer Science at California Institute of Technology, where he was the founding head of that school’s Computer Science department. He then founded a consulting firm, Sutherland, Sproull and Associates, which was purchased by Sun Microsystems to form the seed of its research division, Sun Labs.

            Sutherland was a Fellow and Vice President at Sun Microsystems. Sutherland was a visiting scholar in the Computer Science Division at University of California, Berkeley (Fall 2005–Spring 2008). On May 28, 2006, Ivan Sutherland married Marly Roncken. Sutherland and Marly Roncken are leading the research in Asynchronous Systems at Portland State University.[6]

    1. Ask and you receive. Porn is much more influential on technology than gaming.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/how-porn-drives-innovation-in-tech-2013-7
      PORN: The Hidden Engine That Drives Innovation In Tech
      https://www.thrillist.com/vice/how-porn-influenced-technology-8-ways-porn-influenced-tech-supercompressor-com
      8 Ways Porn Influenced Technology
      http://www.cracked.com/article_18888_5-ways-porn-created-modern-world.html
      5 Ways Porn Created the Modern World

          1. Are talking ripe week worn mens nickers or pleasantly damp ladies?
            Frankly either one has it’s own market.
            Like Brazilian fart porn.
            Weirdly enough I once read something from a guy who got off on people farting on cream cake.
            Those combinations of scent would INCENTIVIZE to purchase virtually any home.
            I think I may still have some pig pheremone cologne around the house. Chicks were supposed to dig it.
            http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/7-weirdest-things-turn-women-according-science
            4. Gasoline, leather, printer ink. Take this “study” with a large grain of salt, or if you’re a man, a large dab of baby oil. A survey by soap company Daz involving 2,000 participants determined that British women are turned on by the smell of leather, gasoline, paint, and printer ink (?), while men are turned on by the scent of lipstick, baby lotion or a roast dinner.
            While the erotic potential of printer ink has been thoroughly documented (PUT IT IN MY TRAY), we have no idea how the soap company supposedly came to these conclusions. It seems like, from the items mentioned, these “researchers” were just trying to get women high in a really ineffective manner. “Here, inhale some gasoline. It’s for science.
            6. Good ‘n’ Plenty Candy. As we wrote previously, ladies are not so keen on the smell of male cologne. According to a study from the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, men should step away from the Axe Body Spray immediately, as it repels women. Specifically: “Men’s colognes actually reduced vaginal blood flow.” Foundation director Al Hirsch came to this conclusion by placing surgical masks scented with 10 different aromas on the ladies. Hirsch then hooked them up to a vaginal photoplethysmograph to figure out what scents turned them on, and determined that women respond most to a mixture of cucumber and Good ‘n’ Plenty candy. What turned them off was cologne, the scent of cherry and “charcoal barbeque meat.”
            We’d like to humbly disagree with science for a minute if we may. Ladies: if you’ve never jerked off to a slow-cooked brisket, you haven’t lived.

          2. Oh, and the farting on cream cake is an old meme. From a Youtube video of a woman who probably has more than one way of turning cream sour. And then Chris-Chan did the same thing. And now we’re just waiting for the Elder Gods to pull the plug on this whole “humanity” thing.

            You should be able to find the video if you look at all. “Cakefarts” is the magic word.

            Actually long before that, I recall on Usenet, one of the many fantastic multi-cross-posted trollfests, a post about Courtney Love and some other woman farting on cream cakes, and all green fungus coming off it and stuff. So maybe that’s the inspiration behind the madness of the video that came a few years later. The Usenet post will’ve been about 1996 or so, guessing.

            Usenet was a fantastic alternative culture. Bit of a pisser it died. Since ISPs stopped hosting it, the concentration of uptight nerds has increased to infestation levels. Of course people like that were always part of Usenet, but there were enough random (very) random people, who’d clicked the “Newsgroup” link in their ISP’s software pack, just out of curiosity. Many of the greatest people came along that way.

            The irony with Usenet, is it’s bandwidth and storage requirements would barely even show up on an ISP’s monthly statement these days, with people streaming HDTV across the globe. Though it was always a bit of a legal niggle, and many complete arse-pains made a big fuss of themselves there. But since killfiles were built-in at every level, there was really no need for anyone to suffer something if they didn’t want to.

            It was actually pretty much a perfect anarchy. The fact there was no physical property, and you can’t stab someone through it, made that a lot easier to achieve of course.

            And there’s some quality digression for ya.

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