Scientists have come up with a new way to introduce odors into virtual reality via small, wireless interfaces.
Creating smells in virtual reality is a vexing problem that has prevented consumer VR devices from offering a full sensory experience in most settings. “People can touch in VR,” says Xinge Yu, a professor at the department of biomedical engineering at the City University of Hong Kong and the lead author of the new paper, published today in Nature Communications. “And of course, you can see and hear in VR. But how about smell and taste?”
Previous efforts to create odors in VR have involved multiple wires, messy liquids, and bulky contraptions that don’t lend themselves to home use.
To tackle the problem, Yu and his co-author, Yuhang Li of Beihang University in Beijing (both of whom have backgrounds designing flexible electronics), developed two wearable interfaces. One can adhere to the skin between the nose and mouth like a bandage; the other straps on beneath a headset like a face mask.