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Реакция читателя

Science and Technology
2023-05-30 09:28:07

Scientists have created a device that allows you to smell in virtual reality

Ученые создали устройство, позволяющее чувствовать запах в виртуальной реальности

VR technology is pervasive in the entertainment industry, and is now increasingly being used in areas such as education and health care. But while visual and audio interfaces are extremely advanced, and "haptic communication" capabilities are improving, olfaction has been absent in the virtual world until now.

Recent advances in virtual reality (VR) technology are accelerating the creation of a flawless virtual world. And in it, apart from visual, auditory and tactile sensations, smells are no less important, because they affect people both physiologically and psychologically. A new development of engineers from the City University of Hong Kong can help in this, which is described in an article for the journal Nature Communications.

The scientists have created a skin-interacting, lightweight and wireless interface based on arrays of flexible and miniaturized odor generators for virtual reality applications. The device can accurately transmit 30 different scents including gardenia, coconut, mojito, pineapple, ginger, green tea, caramel and candy, and control their intensity.

"Through material selection, design layout and power management, our development exhibits outstanding performance in aspects ranging from response speed to odor concentration control, long and continuous operation to high mechanical/electrical stability and low power consumption," the researchers noted.

Previous similar devices typically used bottles of liquid perfume and a sprayer. This is not a particularly practical method: such devices have a limited operating time, require "refueling" and do not allow you to adjust the intensity of the fragrance as easily. 

In the new interface, engineers used tiny plates of scented food-grade paraffin, which are heated by an electrode and emit an odor in just 1.44 seconds. A temperature-dependent resistor - a thermistor - detects the temperature and thus controls the intensity of the scent. An inductance coil controls the metal plate: it draws heat away from the electrode to cool it quickly and shut off the odor. 

The authors of the study described two different formats of the device. In the first, it is small and includes only two odor generators. Due to the soft silicone base, it can be attached over a person's upper lip. The second version is larger, has already nine cells and looks like a face mask.

Both types of interface allow you to choose a specific smell or a combination of them with different intensity, thus creating a "palette" of thousands of possible scents (their type can be distinguished by the color of the shell).

According to scientists, apart from the sphere of entertainment, their device can be used to alleviate symptoms of depression or improve memory in elderly people suffering from cognitive decline. It can also be used for therapy for loss of sense of smell.

Another advantage of the novelty is that it can be miniaturized. The developers have already begun to reduce its size. The plan is to reduce its size by up to five to ten times.


Encyclopaedic reference
НАУКА - это система знаний о закономерностях развития природы, общества и мышления, а также отдельная отрасль таких знаний. Это деятельность, направленная на выработку и систематизацию объективных знаний о действительности.
Китай - официальное название — Кита́йская Наро́дная Респу́блика (КНР) — государство в Восточной Азии. 
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