A new mask can add aroma, as well as the sensation of heat and cool, to VR headsets.
Virtual reality is becoming more realistic every day. Virtual reality has been developed that takes audiences back to WWII and that includes the sense of touch. However, there is one area which VR cannot recreate – smell. Startup FeelReal hopes to change that with a VR mask that can simulate smell, as well as the feel of rain, heat and wind on your face.
The FeelReals mask is compatible with most existing VR headsets, including Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear and PlayStation. It attaches to the bottom of the headset using magnets, and connects to the headset via Bluetooth. Aroma capsules are slotted into the mask. These spray small amounts of scent on (digital) command. The capsules can reproduce 255 different scents, including coffee, lavender, burning rubber and gunpowder. The catalogue of smells were designed by perfumer Bogdan Zubchenko. In addition to the smell capsules, the mask includes micro-heaters and coolers that are designed to push warm or cool air onto users’ face. This can give the illusion of being in a desert or on top of a mountain. An ultrasonic ionising system can recreate the feeling of mist, and the mask includes haptic motors to add sensations.
FeelReal has developed a plugin to help game developers tell the system when to release each aroma. The FeelReal player also has modes that can be used for meditation and aromatherapy. The company plans to release its own VR experiences, called FeelReal Dreams. This is not the first time FeelReal has tried to get off the ground. A crowdfunding campaign in 2015 failed to raise enough capital, but they are planning to launch a new Kickstarter campaign.