Virtual reality and the metaverse have largely focused on sight, hearing and touch. Taste and smell are often forgotten, mainly because they are complex to achieve. But you’ll soon be able to smell smells in the metaverse.
the metaverse, a collective virtual open space, created by the convergence of virtual augmented physical and digital reality, seems to be becoming more realistic by the day. Scientists and innovators have already worked to make digital contact in the metaverse more likely. The same goes for synchronizing digital food with actual meals. Both of these inventions are still in their infancy. However, they suggest upcoming changes for the metaverse industry.
The trend of mixing the metaverse with real life is just beginning. But it will undoubtedly have great consequences for the development of metaverse technology. Currently, researchers are increasingly focusing on create digital scents and set the scent up in the metaverse. But what are the interests? And how will it be?
The smell in the metaverse to improve the user experience
Digital Scent Technology is a device that allows users to fragrant perfume in a digital space. It is a part of human-computer interaction (HMI). Creating a digital perfume turns out to be quite a lucrative business. A recent report stated that the global perfume industry is worth $71 billion. To be able to create digital taste experiences around certain foods, activities or virtual places would improve the user experience. It could, too be part of metaverse advertising.
Companies are looking to enter the metaverse to expand their reach. There are restaurants, consumer goods and individual event-food companies, such as Starbucks or Kraft Heinz. Having digital flavors for these companies’ virtual products can make them more realistic and marketablean attractive prospect for any potential advertiser.
“It is essential that perfume is part of the development of the metaverse. . . or we completely limit the potential,” says OVR CEO Aaron Wisniewski. It’s a smell more than just a fragrant addition to life. Our olfactory neurons create unconscious physiological responses. Japanese plum blossoms, e.g. activate the sympathetic nervous system, improving mood and energy. To actually build one immersive metaverse, it is important to include the scent.
How are the digital smells made in the metaverse?
To do this there are several processes. Scents can be released naturally from a digital source or using directed airflow. Odors can be stored in a digital device and released by a signal. Heating of odorants to create synthetic smoke or dispersion of odorants can also create scents that a user can identify.
In addition, digital scents can be “created” through electrical stimulation of the trigeminal nerve in the nose. In this case, scientists can stimulate the olfactory nerves in the nose to simulate the sense of smell. Unfortunately, research has not yet shown that this process works successfully, due to many investigations are still ongoing.
VR developer OVR technology focuses on smell in the metaverse
Thanks to the OVR (Olfactory Virtual Reality) headset from OVR Technology, it is possible to smell what is in the new digital smell museum « Living with scents “. In fact, OVR Technology has collaborated with other companies and design companies to creating new metaverses based on scents. These include San Francisco-based environmental design studio Randolph Design.
MCD (Museum of Craft and Design), via “Living with Scents”, explained: “Living with Scents will focus not only on scented products but also on creative and artistic interfacesthat offers fragrances with multiple design results”.
The CEO of OVR clarified that the scent must be part of the evolution of the metaverse, saying that it is one of the key factors that influence how people feel. The tech company’s olfactory VR headset has a so-called snap-n-fragrance cartridge where chemical compounds create an artificial smell.
When you use this cartridge to insert it into the OVR unit, it will will automatically copy the smell created by metaverse object in real life. So if you approach one virtual strawberries at the Living With Scents museumyou can even smell the real scent of the berry.
9 most important chemical compounds characterize the Olfactory Virtual Reality snap cartridge. These are combined to produce hundreds of flavors. Creating fragrances is a complex and intricate process. While “strawberry” or “chocolate” scents are simple, creating “beach” requires a combination of sand and sea breeze.
Use cases of OVR technologies
OVR’s pioneer product is OX1, a patented, lightweight, wireless device that attaches to the bottom of a VR head-mounted display. To intensify the immersion and authenticity of the VR experienceOX1 emits microscopic millisecond bursts of various flavored liquids into a small area under the user’s nose.
According to Erik Cooper, Chief Design Officer and co-founder of OVR Technology, OVR Technology initially focuses on healthcare, education and training. Faster, cheaper and more accessible VR technology is driving increasing adoption in the healthcare market.
Clinicians use already existing VR methodology to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, with a immersion therapy and war-related scents to help them revisit and reprocess traumatic experiences. More than two-thirds of patients with the disorder were symptom-free after such treatment in a program at the University of Central Florida, according to Aaron Wisniewski.
In addition to healthcare, OVR Technology envisions training, education, entertainment, immersive experiences including scent-activated 4D games and documentaries, as potential markets. “We wanted to start in healthcare and the burgeoning market for digital therapies,” Cooper pointed out.
What else can digital scent technology be used for?
In addition to metaverse advertising, digital perfumes have many different applications. Smell can help make a metaverse experience more realistic, like a movie or virtual reality set. This can be useful for those using VR for school classes or police training as it better engages users.
The Internet of the Senses Institute (IoS) is one of the organizations studying digital scents. She focuses on creating a platform that allows all five virtual senses to emerge: taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing. Their platform helps connect scientists with investors, as well as build a like-minded community around virtual sensory experiences. Their work and that of other researchers seems to be just the beginning of the expansion of the metaverse into a more realistic world, complete with the satisfaction of all the senses.
Some actors of the digital perfume
The United Kingdom, OW Smell Digital which raised $1.2 million, is developing a “Photoshop for Smell” service based on artificial intelligence. In Spain, Olorama technology has developed a library of 400 perfumes delivered via perfume boxesmany of which can be activated by the user’s voice.
At the end of the spectrum is an NFT fragrance from Berlin-based Look Labs, captured via near-infrared spectroscopy recording the molecular wavelength of a scent. Besides, Feelreal’s crowdfunded multi-sensory VR mask was demonstrated in tribute in 2015, but died out in 2020. WaqsoThe Tokyo-based company, which raised $600,000 in 2017 for its clip-on cartridge and blower combo, hasn’t updated its website in years.
Hypnosis virtualwhich describes itself as a metaverse technology startup, has developed Scentscape, which she says is “transforming all aspects of human activity from passive to active by introducing a new neuroscience-based data stream called Bio-Media.” According to Hypos, “Scentscape will be available in different sizes. But the film model creates millions of different flavors.” Apparently he uses AI to delivering “the right perfumes at the right time in accordance with the moment”. He cites as examples the sparkling smell of a sea voyage in VR.
The digital smell, a real lack of investment in the sector
“It’s an interesting technology, but not an interesting business model . . . for now,” says Christina Ku, venture capitalist at Docomo Ventures. Its parent company, NTT Docomo, has integrated the digital smell in Cokoon, his custom metaverse meeting room in real life. For Ku, lack of major investments “denotes the very early stage of smell”. “But commercial brands are intrigued,” she adds.
However, Yash Patela general partner at Telstra Ventures, which invests in Web3 startups, sees embedded scent as a distraction from the big picture. “The metaverse will not be hardware-driven,” he says. In his timeline, interoperability comes first, better devices come second. And only then will there be room develop immersive add-ons.