Implementing Scent into Virtual Reality


A study from Rockefeller University estimates that the human nose is capable of distinguishing more than a trillion different scents. There’s a reason behind picking out the perfect fragrance for a first date or real estate agents baking cookies in a house right before a showing. Scent can be a powerful tool to evoke memory and emotion. However, the majority of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications don’t include the nose when creating immersive experiences. In a recent article in VR360, What is the scent of virtual reality?, Avery Gilbert with Synesthetics, Jacki Morie with All These Worlds, and Saskia Wilson-Brown with The Institute for Art and Olfaction, share about the future of scent in AR/VR.

There are numerous ways scent could be used to enhance AR/VR experiences from smelling burning tires when driving a racecar to using aromatherapy to enhance cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients. Scent plays a huge role in how we experience the world, so it is important for AR/VR developers to capture this in their technology.

Avery Gilbert, Jacki Morie and Saskia Wilson-Brown will provide insight on new trends in scent technology at the annual SXSW Conference, 9-18 March 2018 in Austin, TX. The session, Binding Emotion & Memory: Science, Story & Scent, is included in the IEEE Tech for Humanity Series at SXSW. For more information, please visit the IEEE Tech for Humanity Series website.

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