Digital Scent Technology: The Perfect Companion for Virtual Reality?


Seeing is believing, yet virtual reality is expected to take us on a journey never possible within the world we actually live in. It will also allow us to experience things we can also enjoy within the real world, too. One major issue at hand is, of course, the fact that you aren’t able to smell the scents from within the environments you’re actually witnessing. However, technology might soon have an answer to this conundrum.

Whilst it seems fair to say that the television has evolved to become our window to witnessing digital media, virtual reality is ready to provide an alternative to this very tradition. Yes, the birth of the television was actually way back in the early 19th century.

Interestingly, virtual reality became an imaginable dream quite some time ago, however, it’s a technology that will soon be ready to go mainstream.  Ditching the TV for a VR headset is sure to become popular at times with a specific crowed, especially gamers. The biggest question at hand is, of course; can VR change the way in which the majority of us view media? However, digital scent technology would be able to marriage with a variety of tech devices including, TVs, smartphones, VR headsets and more.

Let’s face it, 3D TV’s were hyped to the max, yet it became a huge flop as a technology, and resulted in nothing more than just a fad. Could VR be similar? It’s possible. Importantly, though, witnessing a film in 3D compared to entering a virtual world (that you are partly controlling), all within a gaming environment, are two totally different scenarios. Therefore, it’s important not to distinguish them together.

Certainly, virtual reality has the potential to broaden the way in which we view media. What if this could be partnered with scent technology? At this point, not only would you be entering a different viewable world, but you’d be able to take in the scents, too. This brings realism and technology as close together as currently possible. Take for example, you’re walking on a beautiful mountain walk with alpine plants, not only would the view look amazing, but the fresh scents would apply, too. The final layer of realism is therefore added, giving you the ultimate experience –weather it be in a game or watching a favourite film.

How on earth would these scents get to my nostrils? Just as a virtual reality headset is attached to your head, virtual scent technology could be applied to your nose. This might sound like science fiction to some, however, it isn’t. Interestingly, Japanese researchers have already uncovered a prototype which is currently coined as a smelling screen. Instead of attaching a device to your nose, this device operates by using fans to waft odors from an area on the screen. According the the researchers, the fans operate at a specific speed, making the users unaware that they’re actually there, providing the impression that the scents are travelling through the screen.

There is plenty of other activity surrounding digital scent technology, and you can only imagine it arriving as a mainstream possibility in the coming years.

Scents help to change the way we perceive – a statement that many would agree with. Take for example: A juicy steak frying, taste buds watering? How about rain falling? What if you could actually smell the scent, the dampness? It definitely provides a new perspective and dimension to the world of realism.

Virtual reality is ready for take-off, but could scent technology help to raise the realism bar further? Probably. What do you think? Leave your ideas and comments in the box below.

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