The idea of ‘smell-o-vision’ has becomes something of a cultural joke in the past few decades since the idea was originally created for cinemas in the 1960s. Various versions of the technology have been in use since then, being used in theme park attractions and shops to create a suitable atmosphere for consumers. The idea is now making something of a comeback with the rise of virtual reality (VR).
The central concept of VR is that of immersion; the strength of VR lies in its ability to make a VR user truly feel like part of the virtual environment and not just a passive viewer. It is perhaps with this immersion in mind that the idea of adding scent begins to make sense. A Tokyo-based start-up named Vaqso VR has released a small smell-emitter that acts as an accessory for VR headsets.
The Vaqso VR scent device can be connected to VR headsets using a magnet-based adaptor that can connect to devices such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. The device can carry up to three different scents and uses tiny fans to control the intensity of the scents, based upon what is going on during the VR experience.
The company have stated an interest in collaborating with other companies to introduce scent technology to advertising, movies and videogames. In order to attract other developers into using the scent technology, Vaqso have developed a library and application interface to allow the Vaqso VR scent technology to be incorporated into existing software. The library features simplified ‘codes’ that control Vaqso VR functions such as connect, disconnect, battery life, scent blower control etc. The currently available SDK only works with Unity, but Vaqso VR are working on versions for other engines.
It isn’t currently known who is planning to use the Vaqso VR scent technology. VRFocus will keep you informed on any developments.