Smells Like Virtual Reality: Vaqso Poised to Add Smell to VR

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Smells Like Virtual Reality: Vaqso Poised to Add Smell to VR

Recently, the folks at Vaqso unveiled a device that would offer a whole new dimension to virtual reality: smell. Originally designed as a means to promote restaurants with virtual reality displays including smell, the system is taking on some potential new uses as well.

The Vaqso system is approximately the same length as a Snickers bar, reports note, and attaches readily to several currently-available head-mounted display systems. It uses a set of different odor cartridges--currently three types exist, but that number may reach 10 by the time development has concluded--and an internal fan creates stronger and weaker smells by adjusting its rate of operation to deliver smell.

An additional application programming interface (API) makes it easier to connect Vaqso's smell-based interface with newly-built games, making it entirely possible to smell what's going on in a game to at least some degree.

Vaqso isn't the first to do this--Noslus Rift and Feelreal already exist in the market--but Vaqso can offer multiple different odors, something that its competitors can't. Throw in Vaqso's compatibility with a variety of different heads-up displays and it gives the system a clear market edge. It will hit the B2B field in April, and by the end of 2017, it should be available for the regular consumer market as well.

While it's not a bad idea, it's easy to think that Vaqso and its ilk are solving the wrong problem. After all, smelling what's going on in a simulation is certainly one of the five senses, but it's really not the big game-changer that most were hoping for. It's touch that's the real final frontier of VR--the ability to feel a weapon's grip and heft in one's hand, and so on.

Vaqso's efforts will not be in vain, certainly, but it's far from the solution everyone was likely hoping for.

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