Virtual reality is a largely visual environment with sounds rounding out the experience. A number of devices bring haptic feedback into the picture, but smell remains absent. That may change in the future via Feelreal’s sensory mask, a contraption that works with existing VR headsets to bring hundreds of smells to the user’s virtual worlds.
The Feelreal VR mask is something of an oddity, featuring a Darth Vader-like contraption that pairs with an existing VR headset so that it is positioned in front of the wearer’s lower face. Aroma capsules contain various scents that are released to augmented the VR experience.
A VR scene in a coffee shop, for example, may result in a coffee scent being released. Less common scents are also options, including things like burning rubber for a car race scene. On top of that, the mask also uses small heaters and coolers to push temperature-controlled air onto the user’s face, helping provide the illusion of exposure to rain or heat.
Feelreal presents its mask as a way to augment VR games and movies, provide better immersion for VR-based meditation practice, and even for aromatherapy in the absence of a VR headset.
The company’s mask is supposedly compatible with the HTC Vive, Gear VR, Oculus Rift and Go, and PlayStation VR, covering some of the most popular models currently on the market. The device connects wirelessly using Bluetooth and WiFi. The Feelreal mask can run for four hours on a charge and weighs only 7 ounces. The company plans to launch its product on Kickstarter “soon.”