A new device makes it possible to smell odors in virtual worlds

Estimated read time 2 min read

Hong Kong researchers have developed an olfactory system that reproduces odors using heated wax. It has been designed for use with a virtual reality headset, in order to be able to smell the scent of virtual objects.

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Virtual reality headsets allow you to see and hear worlds created from scratch. Some accessories even incorporate haptic feedback, offering a feeling of touch. But for the moment, there is no device that allows you to smell the smell of a virtual object. This may soon change thanks to a device invented by researchers from the Municipal University of Hong Kong and published in the journal Nature Communications.

The device is inspired by scented candles. The simplest prototype is composed of two “odor generators” mounted on a flexible substrate and glued directly under the neznez. Each of the generators contains scented paraffin wax associated with a thermal actuator.

Perfumes that don’t need to be refilled frequently

When the wax is heated by the actuator, it softens and releases its odor. The actuator can then be reversed to quickly cool the wax and stop the odor. Thus, the device could be connected to a virtual reality headset to release a floral fragrance when the user smells a virtual flower. The researchers have also created another version, in the form of a mask this time, which contains nine odor generators. By operating several of them simultaneously, they can be combined to create many different smells. The researchers have indicated that they have managed to create about thirty smells in this way, including rosemary, rosemary, pineapple, pancakes, or even durian, an exotic exotic fruit known for its very strong bad smell.

The researchers tested their odors on 11 volunteers, who were able to identify them with a success rate of 93%. The use of scented paraffin wax allows long-term use without the need to replace the elements frequently. The system already has a very short response time, but the researchers want to make it even faster, and smaller, so that it integrates better with virtual, augmented or mixed reality headsets.

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