Ever wanted to lean into the lush forests of Lucky’s Tale and breath it all in? Miss the smell of salty sea air in The Galley’s opening level? We do too, but Vaqso might soon bring our sense of smell into VR.
Vaqso is a Japanese invention consisting of a small device that clips to the bottom of your Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR (PSVR). The kit then emits an odor that’s pushed toward your nose using a tiny fan that will adapt to the intensity of the smell you should be getting. It all sounds a little crazy to us, but there are investors that believe this is the real deal.
Business Insider reports that Vaqso has raised some $600,000 in a seed round from Japanese venture capital firm Weru Investment. Founder Kentaro Kawaguchi previously worked with Zaaz, a company that works with restaurants to create specific smells for dining experiences.
Crucially, the Tokyo-based team behind Vaqso wants to work with advertisers as well as movie and games companies to create specific smells for products. While you might not want to bring one of these home for yourself, then, you might well see it being used at location-based setups. Think about a VR advert for a bathroom cleaning product. Or maybe don’t, actually.
Smells apparently last for a month and then you’ll have to switch out cartridges.
While the VR industry pushes on with improving sight, sound and touch for the technology, smell and taste have taken a backseat. It’s not that we don’t want to be able to fully experience our surroundings like that, but there are more important areas to address in maintaining immersion right now. Hopefully companies like Vaqso can great elegant solutions that will one day be fully integrated into headsets as standard.
If you’re interested in using the kit then there’s a mailing list at the bottom of the website to sign up to, which asks what development engine you use. Let’s just hope this one doesn’t stick… literally.