SMH: Virtual-reality startup Feelreal has announced a new VR accessory that promises to bring “realism” to games and movies through your sense of smell. That’s right — it’s another attempt at Smell-O-Vision.
The Feelreal Sensory Mask is a device that fits onto just about any VR headset to deliver scents to the user’s nose. According to the company, the accessory communicates via Bluetooth or WiFi and is compatible with Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. The mask attaches to the headset with magnets to keep it in place.
There are 255 different scents available for the device, but it can only hold nine individual odors at one time. The cartridges can be swapped out depending on the experience you are trying to create.
Some of the smells mentioned include burning rubber, gunpowder, lavender, and roses. The chemicals used to create the odors are similar to those used in the food industry, so are not harmful.
The Feelreal Sensory Mask is also capable of delivering other sensations too.
“Feel the rain on your cheeks with our ultrasonic ionizing system. Enjoy the cool mountain breeze via two powerful micro-coolers. Sense the warmth of the desert with safe micro-heaters. Endure the impact when force feedback haptic motors kick in!”
The mask is obviously geared for games and movies. A few of the supported titles include Skyrim VR, Beat Saber, Death Horizon, and YouTube VR. It can also be used without a VR headset via a mobile app, which gives you control of the scents to deliver. Feelreal suggests it would be useful for aromatherapy or meditation.
Smell-O-Vision, which was invented in the 1960s, has been attempted several times in the past with both video game and movie variants. One of the more recent was the Nosulus Rift. Developed more as a fart-smelling gag (pun intended) by Ubisoft for the game South Park: The Fractured but Whole, the device never saw production but did make a showing at GamesCom 2016.
The Feelreal Sensory Mask seems just as gimmicky as all the other attempts at Smell-O-Vision, and I doubt it will catch on enough to succeed. However, if you think you’d like to smell your games, it will be offering early-bird discounts to pre-orders during its upcoming Kickstarter campaign. A date has not been set, but you can sign up for announcements on the Feelreal website.