VR: The future is here it smells beautiful and petrifying!

Over at slingshot labs we have been completing research and trend forecasting with regard to the subject of the future of ‘the internet of things’, we have spoken about the connected home and how this may shape lives in the future. However this weekend we had the opportunity to attend ‘I AM- Internet age media festival’. During the festival we had our minds opened up to not only things going on in this world, however what is happening in the ‘Possible world’ of Virtual Reality! We were able to experience the virtual reality installation produced by Fabbula in conjunction with ‘I AM’. 

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(photo taken by Romayne of Slingshot Labs- Installation on the Roof Of Elisava)

In this 15 minutes of what I can only describe as mind blowing experience we were invited to experience the ‘possible worlds’ that could be. During the installation artists take the participants on short journeys with everything from kissing dragons to the execution of Pepe the frog played out in front of us. I have to admit, at one point when transported to the middle of  a great empty expanse, miles and miles of fields at dusk it felt as if I could smell the fresh air around me, I took in a deep breath! However this was not the case, Virtual reality although a fairly new technology is becoming accessible to the public and people have started to own headsets at home. But what about that true reality experience, one that incorporates smell also?

In the 1960’s a movie technician Hans lube placed tubes that exited smell in a cinema- he named this smell-o-vision but patrons were not impressed reporting that a hissing noise distracted from the film and the smells lingered on for too long. Almost 40 years later we have seen some incredible advancements in technology, however no one seems to have achieved a modern day ‘smell-O-vision’ with success. Could our client with its years of manufacturing scent delivery apparatus stay relevant by getting a foot in this market? Watch this space. 

Speaking of the market – the number of users adopting the new tech, predominantly gamers, is expected to reach 171 million and at present, 43 million people worldwide own a VR headset, so ownership could rise more than three fold in just two years, even before the predicted peak in 2021.(1) Goldman Sachs have already forecast that VR has the potential to out-monetise TV over the next decade and  predict $80 billion VR sales figures (1)

There are of course some companies trying to get involved with additions to VR head sets that may produce scent. A company named FeelReel started as a kickstarter and it is not clear if they have actually gone into manufacturing. They do however claim to use technology that can emit smell into a viewers headset, with current capacity to hold seven cartridges with different scents, including the smell of fire, the ocean and gunpowder`! (3)

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Our brief over at slingshot labs is to design a connected air care product and it is worth thinking about these predictions in VR as those companies able to enhance an already very real experience by adding smell could gain a first foot in this billion dollar market. 

“There’s always a richer, more immersive medium to experience the world,” Mark Zuckerberg said way back in 2014. “And after video, the next logical step is fully immersive virtual reality.” 

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I will admit I was initially skeptical when people spoke of this future world sat at home with a headset on- however after experiencing it myself, I will admit- I did not want it to end, I could have spent another hour or maybe the rest of the day in the installation traveling through these alternate worlds.  Would scent have enhanced my experience? I believe quite possibly, and that is something for us to take note of for our current project.

Call it black mirror/ dystopia/ amazing or petrifying there is one thing that is clear VR is here, and it is here to stay.

(1) http://www.information-age.com/future-virtual-reality-123461990/

(2) http://fortune.com/2017/01/13/virtual-reality-future/

(3) https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/243743-stop-smell-virtual-roses-scent-next-frontier-vr

(4) http://www.cinemablend.com/games/FeelReal-An-Oculus-Rift-Add-Lets-You-Smell-Virtual-Reality-70580.html

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