What does the Metaverse smell like? | by Alice Bonasio | Tech Trends

At #AWE2021 we stop and smell the virtual roses, and it doesn’t feel weird.

Over the years I’ve demoed a lot of technologies aiming to make experiences more immersive by involving more of our senses such as sound, touch, and smell.

But so far, most of the products adding scent to VR have felt gimmicky, and often looked funny, if not downright scary.

This is why I was really happy that when I visited the OVR Technology Booth at AWE, donning the modified headset and diving straight into the demo took less than a minute.

The head-mounted display (one of Pico Interactive’s Neo family of headsets) was equipped with OVR Technology’s ION device and scent cartridges. Maybe it was because I have now become used to wearing a mask because of COVID safety, but the additional piece over my nose and mouth did not feel stifling, and I could still smell the scents through the mask (I’m told they would be stronger without it, which makes sense).

I was first presented with several virtual red roses set in a tray of earth. I reached out and easily picked one up; the physics were satisfyingly responsive and controls very simple, which only required pressing the side trigger on the hand controller to grab the various scented objects.

The fresh rose smell hit me — not perfume-like at all, very natural as I would expect from the real thing. As I held it, I was able to turn it around and smell the other end of the stem which had an earthy smell.

The next environment presented me with a campfire, with its accompanying distinctive smell. I then picked up a marshmallow on a stick and got that smell. The interesting thing was how holding the marshmallow over the virtual fire made that smell develop into a toasted marshmallow scent.

I then went on to demo some of the environments of their newly launched INHALE Wellness Platform, which offer scent-focused nature scenes. Although I didn’t have time to do the guided meditations inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, I did find the simple actions of handling the floating scented globes, moving…

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