Many hardware makers are trying to make virtual reality (VR) as realistic as possible, so they are introducing products which offer improved resolutions and better viewing angles. Some hardware makers even want to cater to our other four senses, bringing them into the virtual world. For example, a company called FeelReal is making a new VR accessory which will work as a multi-sensory mask, bringing smell to virtual worlds.
The multi-sensory mask is equipped with a “reliable scent generator.” It utilizes nine individual aroma capsules, and the company claims it can deliver 255 different scents to the user.
“Imagine the depth of interaction when users can truly feel themselves on a racing track and actually smell burned rubber. Or being able to grasp the feeling of being on a battlefield complete with the intense gunpowder odor. This is what the multi-sensory virtual reality experience is all about,” the company said in a press release announcing the device.
FeelReal has not released a complete list of scents which will be available through the multi-sensory mask, so the types of scenarios it will support in bringing smell to virtual worlds are still unclear. The company’s mask also offers a “water mist” via an ultrasonic ionizing system, which enables users to feel like they’re standing out in the rain. The VR accessory’s safe micro-heaters will also add a sensation of warmth, which would fit with a VR desert scenario very well. The mask can even offer a wind sensation using a pair of micro-coolers and a feeling of vibration using force-feedback haptic motors.
The multi-sensory mask is compatible with the vast majority of currently-active VR headsets, like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and it will also work with the PlayStation VR, Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR. The accessory can be connected to these headsets via either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Additionally, the mask is equipped with magnetic mounts to hold it firmly and keep it from falling off the user’s face.
FeelReal plans to introduce the new VR accessory through a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter. However, this is not the first attempt to do so. The company tried to get the necessary funding to start the project in 2015, but it failed to gather the necessary funds to continue with production. At that time, the concept of VR wasn’t as popular as it is now, so the idea of bringing smell to virtual worlds may have been ahead of its time.
However, the company has used the extra time wisely by improving the device further. The odor generation system had seven cartridges when it was originally introduced, rather than the nine it has today. At that time it was also a helmet rather than just a mask like it is now. In 2015, the innovative helmet designed to bring smell to virtual worlds had a mere 86 backers who pledged less than half of the required $50,000 funding goal for production to begin.
The updated multi-sensory mask can now be preordered here.