As we all know, virtual reality is about developing a programmed visual simulation and making it as close as really as possible. Till now, platforms such as Second Life, gives us the freedom to explore a virtual environment and chat with other users through avatars. Currently my school, The University of Texas at Dallas, have developed virtual training programs to help patients with brain disorders to live a better life. Virtual technology is about satisfying the sense of sight, but what if it’s possible to expand to the other senses?
A couple of months ago when I was guest blogging at the TED conference here in Dallas there was a demonstration room that had something that was very curious. I sat in what seems to be some kind of arcade, it’s called the Immersa-Dome and it’s developed by Aardvark Applications, a experiential marketing company that deals in promotions, advertising and digital technology. When Tom Milks, President and CEO, turned on the system I was totally blown away by what I experienced. It was a collage of high definition video and virtual surround sound, think of it as a miniature Imax because of the domed screen. But check this out, when several scenes were displayed I could actually “smell” the surroundings. There’s one scene where I was zooming across a beach, suddenly I can smell the ocean and then the display shifts to a clip where I was like a bee buzzing across a garden of flowers and then suddenly I can smell the flowers. Suddenly there was a clip of a roller coaster viewed in first person, like I’m actually sitting in the roller coaster, once it goes down the rail the chair starts to vibrate.
What’s actually happening is that a mist of a recognized scent is programmed to release on a particular clip thus enhancing the virtual experience and the chair is also programmed to vibrate on the more motion concentrated clips. Aardvark has also developed a miniature theatre that has a similar concept but at a wider scope. I definitely recommend that you check this out, it is a virtual reality that will capture sight, sound, smell, and touch.
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