We've all seen movies where someone smells something, and it transports them to another time or place. Whether it's the smell of freshly baked cookies that takes you back to your childhood or the smell of a summer rainstorm that reminds you of a romantic moment, scent can be a powerful trigger for memories. Now, thanks to OVR Technology's ION3, we can experience smell through our entertainment.
OVR Technology's ION3 merges the virtual reality experience with actual reality through scent. Using an ION3, users can attach scent capsules to their existing virtual reality headsets. When the user is in a particular environment or playing a game, the scent capsule will activate and release the chosen scent. This makes for a more immersive experience as you can smell and sense what's happening around you like never before.
Imagine being in a cooking game, and while cooking, the game was able to produce scents to represent the virtual food being cooked. Or, in a game like Left 4 Dead, you can smell the environment around you. This would allow you to know when a zombie has approached you based on the strength of the scent. Or you can identify Special Infected because of a change in scent around you. Of course, the smell would not be pleasant, but it would be effective.
The system uses a scent cartridge, similar to a printer cartridge. In this cartridge are what the company describes as the eight "core scent profiles." From these 8 scents, a developer can create a large variety of scents in various strengths. The technology can be integrated into nearly any type of media type, including games and movies, enhancing the experience.
The scents are programmatically created, meaning that the application or media property must be involved in the creation of these scents. This means that developers, directors, and producers are going to have to buy into the concept in order to see this concept gain momentum.
Fortunately, the concept has a long history in entertainment - especially in live entertainment. If you've ever been to a theme park, you might have been on one of the 4D experiences. While the majority of the experience is based around a 3D movie, the enhancements come from air, water, and smell. These experiences are scripted and controlled under the constraints of the movie experience, making the technology a little easier.
However, OVR Technology's ION3 has managed to take the concept and make it universally applicable outside of the controlled environment. In addition, they have made the technology small enough that it can be included into a home rig, but powerful enough to be included into professional experiences.
The ION3 from OVR Technology is currently planned to be launched publicly during 2023, though plans can always change. To learn more about the company, the ION3, and how this technology might fit into your life, you can head over to the company's website.
Interview by Don Baine, The Gadget Professor.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.