Smelling in virtual reality has become possible with the use of a new technology created by Peter Luden, a research engineer at Stockholm University. The odour machine known as an olfactometer has made it possible to smell in VR environments and it can be controlled by a gaming computer.  

First to market is a ‘wine tasting game’ funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenbert Foundation. In a virtual wine cellar, the gamer is challenged to identify the aroma of wines after being offered virtual wine glasses containing different types of wine. The micro scent machine is attached to the VR system’s controller, and when the player lifts the glass, it releases a scent via air in a tube.

Professor Simon Niedenthal

This new technology has other uses and may in the future be used to train wine tasters and perfumers. Game-based smell training could be recommended by doctors for those who lost their sense of smell as a result of severe colds and COVID-19 or other viruses. Simon Niedenthal, Associate Professor of Interaction Design at Malmö University, speaking to Science News, explains that the code blueprints and instructions for the virtual wine tasting game are available to the public as an open source to enable more use of this technology and therefore reduce the cost of the equipment making the new experience available to more people.   

The development of the virtual world is destined to become more of a reality with the addition of smell-based games to audio and visual offerings.  

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