VR technology development is thriving and is attracting a lot of interest from both manufacturers and users alike. We're only at the beginning of the VR era and things are still a little complicated, but the future still looks very promising. The Japanese are taking it to the next level as they are hoping to add a whole new dimension to the technology: smell.
We recently saw that some people have had some difficulties accepting VR: it can cause headaches and nausea, few people are interested in it due to the small number of apps, but the main problem is obviously the price. It will take time for VR to become more accessible, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing as by that time the technology will be far more superior to what we have at the moment.
Virtual Reality - and smells
Some developers are already on the lookout for solutions to these problems, while others are venturing even further again. A Japanese company is currently trying to make virtual reality even more realistic by adding another sense to accompany hearing and sight: smell. The VAQSO VR is a small device made up of cartridges, each of which contain a specific smell. Depending on your preferred VR adventures, the device will release certain smells to pull you even further into the game. The technology obviously isn't perfect, as it is still in the development stages, but it does have potential.
As CNET has recently pointed out, smell is already associated with VR in many specific situations. We're hoping that we'll see something a little more interesting than just sex and pets in this respect (Oh, and please refrain from writing “you'd need to test both at the same time” in the comments).
What about the other senses?
Sight and sound are the primary senses used in any video game experience, and there's every chance that smell will also be used too one day. That just leaves touch and taste to be implemented to achieve a rounded VR experience. Theoretically, touch would be easy to integrate as you already touch the controller to interact with the game. That said, if we want a FPS game where you can fire a gun, you'll need more than just a controller. Here you'd need a number of other accessories and different kinds of controllers, the number of which would most likely increase over time.
Taste is much more complex as this would involve a direct interaction inside the body - meaning you would have to put something in your mouth. Other than using an external accessory that is optimized for this purpose (which isn’t very practical), I can’t think of any other strategies. With that said, I can’t imagine how taste would be useful in games or sightseeing tours. Perhaps it could be used by confectionery businesses or other catering companies to showcase their products? This is pure speculation, of course….
How do you envisage the future of VR? Do you think the technology will one day have a full sensory experience for its users? Let us know in the comments below.