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Virtual Reality Now Captures the Essence of Smell

In a groundbreaking collaboration, researchers from Beihang University, Beijing, and the University of Hong Kong have introduced two revolutionary portable devices designed to emit odors with precision on a millimeter scale within localized areas.

Published in Nature Communications, the research outlines two distinct devices: the first, a discreet skin-adhered supplement beneath the nose, offering two odor options; the second, a soft mask with the capability to generate nine diverse odors.

The research introduces a paradigm-shifting concept—a wireless, miniaturized olfactory interface designed for virtual reality applications. Acknowledging the significance of olfaction alongside traditional sensory experiences, the technology comprises flexible, miniaturized odor generators (OGs) that are wirelessly programmable.

Optimizing material selection, design layout, and power management, the OGs exhibit exceptional performance across response rate, odor concentration control, long-term continuous operation, mechanical/electrical stability, and low power consumption. The practical applications span a spectrum from 4D movie watching to smell message delivery, medical treatment, human emotion control, and VR/AR-based online teaching.

This soft olfaction interface holds immense potential across entertainment, education, human-machine interfaces, and beyond, shaping a new frontier in sensory experiences.

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