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VR Interfaces: Scent Pop

Overview

Overview of Scent Pop
Of all our senses, smell is our most primal. Animals need the sense of smell to survive. Although a blind rat might survive, a rat without its sense of smell can't mate or find food. Smell can also be used to navigate: you cannot see that meat bog beyond the forest yet, but you can certainly smell it.

Smell cannot tell us too well a direction, only that something stinky is nearby. We rely on other senses to find out where, smell just warns us that it is nearby, when the source may be out of sight and beyond hearing. Removing the smell from the equation takes away one of our senses, abstracts the realism of the environment.

How often have you identified someone by his or her perfume or after-shave? Been tempted to buy some food based only on the wonderful smell wafting out? Breathed deeply in as you open a new jar of coffee? Held your nose as you?ve walked past a dung heap?

Scents and smells are ubiquitous, they are part of our everyday world. Yet, when you enter VR worlds, you almost always lose your sense of smell. Sight is covered, hearing is covered via speakers, even touch is covered via haptic gloves and other accessories. Smell usually remains abandoned, lacking hardware to cover it.

Scent POP or Scent Point-of-Purchase is a smaller version of the Scent Wave scent system, designed for retail needs. It allows a single pop of scent to be emitted, to provide a customer with a preview of the scent of a given product.

Pumping out a thin hint of scent, Scent Pop operates at just above the subconscious level; noticeable but not strong, to give a hint of smell, as opposed to an all-pervading aroma. Designed to work in well-ventilated areas, this particular concept works badly in the confines of a VR unit, where different smells quickly mix together without dissipating.


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