Is virtual smell possible?

A smell machine, called an olfactometer, allows you to smell in virtual reality environments. The first is a “wine tasting game” in which the user smells the wine in a virtual winery and gets points if he is right to guess the aromas of each wine. The new technology can be printed on 3D printers. Smelling makes people uncomfortable because it crushes all the limbic buttons and leaves us speechless.

Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University in England, agreed and criticized the idea of electrical smell in general. However, recent experiments in Malaysia suggest that it might be possible to develop an “electrical olfactory technology” capable of transmitting smells, as well as images and sounds. In 1999, the company Digiscents created the iSMell personal scent synthesizer, which produced thousands of smells a day with a small cartridge containing 128 basic odors. Being able to create digital flavors around certain foods, activities or virtual places would not only improve the user experience, but could also be part of advertising in the metaverse.

Among the few who smell the sweet smell of victory at VR Smells is Aaron Wisniewski, CEO and founder of the olfactory virtual reality manufacturer OVR Technology. Smell-O-Vision competed with AromaRama, a similar system invented by Charles Weiss that emitted scents through a theater's air conditioning system. This tongue-shaped nerve protuberance processes odors in the brain and is closely related to older brain regions, specifically the amygdala, which manages emotions, and the hippocampus, which deals with memory. Using virtual reality headsets as a blindfold and a white noise machine to muffle the sound, participants were asked to locate the source of the peppermint oil smell using only their noses.

It is a technology for detecting, transmitting and receiving digital multimedia content with scents (such as movies, video games, virtual reality, extended reality, web pages and music). Future research, which will be carried out with a specialist in smell disorders from the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, will continue to evaluate the electrical stimulation of odors and use brain scans to compare how the study subjects respond to real and to those that are electrically stimulated. Similarly, the Feelreal mask, designed to release odorous molecules from the cartridges in the nose during virtual reality games, was classified as “an instrument of torture”. If virtual reality is to realize its full potential, it needs to wake up and smell its sickening lack of smell.

If feasible, it could be used to restore the sense of smell in people who have lost it as a result of illness, injury or birth defect, said Joel Mainland, an olfactory neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

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