Scent from VR glasses: Breakthrough on the way to smell television

Science For TV and computer games

Breakthrough on the way to smell television

Simulation of a user sitting in front of a virtual bouquet of flowers with olfactory glasses on his nose Simulation of a user sitting in front of a virtual bouquet of flowers with olfactory glasses on his nose

The new technology uses chip-sized memories for fragrances

Source: Xinge Yu, Yuhang Li, University of Hong Kong

For a long time there has been the vision of olfactory television, which not only transmits images and sound, but also scents. But that has been very difficult so far. But now Chinese researchers are presenting a miniaturized system that works mobile and wireless – right in front of the user’s nose.

Nfter the introduction of color television, it was joked that the only thing missing was the transmission of smells – for example, the perception of an aromatic coffee smell when the actress sips a hot caffeinated beverage on the TV screen. Since then, there have been numerous technical innovations in television technology, but despite a few attempts, the television experience has so far remained odorless.

The first attempts to give moving images an olfactory sensuality had already been made before the sound film was invented. As early as 1906, a certain Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel hung cotton fabric mixed with rose essence in front of an electric fan in a movie theater in Forrest City (Pasadena). By switching on at the appropriate film sequence, the scent of roses be generated.

In 1959, the first major fragrance film, Behind the Great Wall, was presented at the DeMille Theater in New York. Using a technique called “AromaRama”, 72 different scents were presented to the audience: from incense, orangesburning fields, a barn with geese and various spices.

also read

Far from ephemeral: Fragrances can be analyzed using tiny samples, even after thousands of years

Basically, the technical generation of smells is simple. You only have to vaporize an essence of the fragrance in question at the desired time, for example vaporize it by means of electrically generated heat. On the other hand, providing 72 vessels with scented substances is quite an effort: from producing the essences to installing the necessary technology in the cinema. And all for just one tailored film.

Chip-sized memories for fragrances

A universal olfactory cinema that could convey the thousands of smells in the real world and would therefore be suitable for every film is simply illusory – especially since most olfactory perceptions arise from a complex superimposition of different odor molecules.

This also makes it clear why things have become very quiet on the subject of scented television. If such technology cannot even be used economically and sensibly in a cinema, then certainly not in the living room at home. But now there is a new approach that could bring smells home, at least in certain applications such as computer games, in addition to image and sound.

also read

Woman smelling glass of wine beside decorated Christmas tree

Miniaturization is the magic word here. The research team of Xinge Yu and Yuhang Li at the University of Hong Kong presented in the journal “Nature Communications” the new technology. Instead of comparatively large reservoirs, only chip-sized storage for fragrances is used here, which can be placed directly under the user’s nose.

This proximity to the olfactory organ not only has the advantage that one can manage with relatively small amounts of scent molecules, but there is also practically no delay between the signal for release and perception.

Rapid release of the fragrance molecules

Most applications of scents in cinemas or theaters have had the problem that people of different ranks perceive the scent at different times. This cannot then work for everyone synchronously with the cinematic events.

Yu and Li see another advantage in the fact that their system can be used on the go, especially in combination with virtual reality glasses. The fragrances are contained in paraffin wax and are released by a short pulse of heat. The researchers emphasize the high speed of their method. The fragrance molecules are released via millimeter-sized generators within 1.44 seconds.

also read

How good that smells!  The chemical structure of the scent molecules is responsible for the positive perception

In addition to the variant of an odor generator directly under the nose, the researchers have also developed a system that works with a light nose mask. In both cases, the technology can be used mobile and wirelessly, for example together with VR glasses. The mask model can produce nine different scents, but the maskless system only has two so far.

However, further developments could enable the use of a larger number of fragrances in the future. The researchers tested their odor generators with a total of 30 different scents – including pineappleginger, greener tea, Caramel and Candy. One can guess which target group the researchers initially have in mind.

You can listen to our WELT podcasts here

In order to display embedded content, your revocable consent to the transmission and processing of personal data is required, since the providers of the embedded content as third-party providers require this consent [In diesem Zusammenhang können auch Nutzungsprofile (u.a. auf Basis von Cookie-IDs) gebildet und angereichert werden, auch außerhalb des EWR]. By setting the switch to “on”, you agree to this (which can be revoked at any time). This also includes your consent to the transfer of certain personal data to third countries, including the USA, in accordance with Art. 49 (1) (a) GDPR. You can find more information about this. You can withdraw your consent at any time via the switch and via privacy at the bottom of the page.

“Aha! Ten minutes of everyday knowledge” is WELT’s knowledge podcast. Every Tuesday and Thursday we answer everyday questions from the field of science. Subscribe to the podcast at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, deezer, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

See more here

See also  Circle number Pi: ​​Nobody needs more than 37 digits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *