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Adding an Olfactory Dimension To Games

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the secret-cow-level-not-so-alluring-anymore dept.

Games 108

cylonlover writes "California-based company Scent Sciences is looking to bring an olfactory dimension to computer games with its ScentScape personal digital scent delivery system. The ScentScape Gaming Suite system consists of a unit that plugs into a PC or gaming console via USB and generates smells using scent cartridges. As well as aiming for the development of ScentScape-capable games from games developers, the system also allows gamers to add scents to existing games and share these with other ScentScape system users."

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108 comments

Vapourware, literally! (4, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913072)

But seriously folks, this is an awful, awful idea. If given a choice between sinking my money into this or into the Phantom console, I'd have to think a bit before making up my mind.

Want to make a game with an olfactory element? Go for it. Make the character someone/something with an enhanced sense of smell and display whatever their nose picks up as a visual overlay, or with an in game radar map. This has been done at least twice that I'm aware of, and works just fine, conceptually. Make it a core gameplay element and you could do something original even.

It also doesn't require either the player to use their very real nose to experience anything unpleasant, and doesn't require an expensive, useless, gimmicky peripheral.

Re:Vapourware, literally! (2)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913264)

Didn't this concept already win top vaporware [wired.com] /worst concept awards for a few years?

DigiScents iSmell [wikipedia.org]

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913694)

Love the story at the first link. Number two was bitching about Warcraft III. Now we are how many years into WoW? That entry made most interesting by number one, which was 'top vaporware'... in 2001.

Forget the Obligatory Lava Level (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913896)

I'd be more concerned about the Obligatory Sewer level! That and most RPG's are set in a time where you bathed maybe twice in your life. Once when you were born, and optionally once before they put you in the coffin... It's comicon all over again!

Re:Forget the Obligatory Lava Level (2)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 3 years ago | (#34915578)

Not to mention all the War and Zombie games out there. Mmmm...scorched and rotting flesh. I love getting the urge to barf when I play my games.

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914010)

Here's another link http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.11/digiscent_pr.html [wired.com] I remember the DigiScent hype at the time. Unlike vision where you can use combinations of RGB light to fool the eye into seeing almost any color, there are no basis vectors for scent. The scent cartridge becomes unwieldy.

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#34916274)

Unlike vision where you can use combinations of RGB light to fool the eye into seeing almost any color, there are no basis vectors for scent. The scent cartridge becomes unwieldy.

... but at least that means that a prankster can't send you a shit, rotten egg, butyric acid or worse scent if that isn't included in the cartridge in the first place.

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914332)

Soooo...the lesson we take from that is that 2001's vaporware is today's product? Team Fortress 2, Warcraft 3, DN:Forever, Photoshop for OSX, 3G Mobile.
Sure there are some real stinkers on that list, but it isn't exactly holding up well in hindsight.

Perhaps this is the year of smells on the desktop...

Re:Vapourware, literally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913290)

Don't worry, I'm sure it'll go the way of previous attempts. [wikipedia.org]
Interesting idea, given how scent and memory are linked, it would certainly help players remember certain scenes or locations.
But at the same time, it'll probably be more distracting to players than immersive (as with Smell-O-Vision).

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913306)

I've been to war - there's nothing like Napalm in the morning, and its not pleasant - especially with burning flesh.

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913340)

Reminds me of teledildonics which actually was/is a serious proposal as well. But maybe not a good one.

Re:Vapourware, literally! (3, Funny)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913392)

Reminds me of teledildonics which actually was/is a serious proposal as well. But maybe not a good one.

Good? Any proposal that results in the creation of a website called "Slashdong" and a conference called "Arse Elektronika" is an awesome proposal !-)

Re:Vapourware, literally! (2)

crossmr (957846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914322)

I knew a girl who ran who a semi-adult website who once had someone purchase a vibrator for her that could be operated via sms. It was of the style that she could wear for long periods during the day. Never heard what came of it..

Re:Vapourware, literally! (2, Informative)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913348)

No its not. Its in action and has been in Disney and other high end theme parks, and guess what - it works when done correctly. The process completely adds a tremendous dimension influence, and scent is most link to memory recall... games take on added emotion and connection as I would imagine, just as so in many rides and attractions....

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913432)

How often do games have sewers? Gore? Imagine what Doom's zombies would smell like. Or Quake 4's Meat-Factory levels.

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914378)

You say that like it's a bad thing! I'm currently trying to play Amnesia: Dark Descent, imagine how much scarier it would be if you could smell the dank of the water on stone. Sure, if the sewer smells were horrendously over-powering it might suck...but I'm guessing there'd be a way to "turn it down". Done right, it would be incredibly awesome.

How incredibly cool would it be to *sniff sniff* detect a zombie approaching round a corner?

Re:Vapourware, literally! (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913646)

It also doesn't require either the player to use their very real nose to experience anything unpleasant, and doesn't require an expensive, useless, gimmicky peripheral.

It's not useless. It is just simply not... enough... to... use... a... single one.
I mean, com'on, in an immersive 3D gaming experince, you want to use a single expensive gimmick? Buddy, you'll need at least 4 of them for a true "surround" smelly experience... Just look at the today's sound systems - the decent ones would even have a bass-booster dedicated channel... now that's how you need to do it.

Ahh, the smell of rotten corpses in the zombie caves!
Or "the smell of napalm in the morning. The smell, you know that gasoline smell... Smells like, victory"

Also, don't worry much (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914336)

1. Don't worry much. This is one of the ideas that's been popping up again and again since the early 90. And every time it went nowhere, precisely because the awful downsides are that obvious and nobody wants it.

But, as is the case with stupid ideas, just as you think you buried it at the crossroads with a stake through its chest, never to rise again, along comes an idiot investor and drops a drop of blood... err... a wad of cash, and it does rise again. I'm seriously starting to think there's some Dunning-Kruger explanation to it. There must be a sweet spot of ignorance and stupidity where one can look at such an idea that was possible actually for many years, just too stupid to sell to anyone, and genuinely think "well, nobody did it only because they're not THE UBER-GENIUS like me!"

2. And the problems are even bigger than just getting to smell the mandatory sewer levels, or have the olfactory realism in the more than one quest to search through shit in WoW, and so on. Off the top of my head:

- it's unreliable, if anything depends on it. With other senses, you can kinda depend that most players won't be temporarily blind or deaf. By comparison having cold that makes your nose useless, or an allergy, or just being a smoker, or whatever, is quite common.

- MAJOR lag. Unless you literally gas the room with that smell, it depends on air currents and such to propagate. You're not going to experience stepping into a meadow full of flowers in real time. You step into that room and... 2-3 minutes later you actually start to notice the smell from your computer's gizmo. At which point you're actually out of it.

- smells don't dissipate that readily. With, say, sound, when you stop playing it, it stopped. With smells, well, that's why you need kitchen fans and generally ventilation. If you just cooked something, the room will smell like it for a long time. Ditto for any smells such a gizmo would produce.

- strong smells tend to be unpleasant, no matter what they are. (Just remember the last time some lady stunk the whole bus of some perfume that in moderation might have been even pleasant.) Unless you actually also analyse the air continuously and/or actively filter the old smells out, just keeping dumping more of that in the air can accumulate and become nasty even if it's just smelling of flowers and strawberries.

- because of the above factors, it's actually more likely to produce an olfactory cacophony. An average hour of playing, say, City Of Heroes, sees me popping through the sewers, going through some park, flying over the smoke stacks of the factories in King's Row, etc. Since smells tend to stick around for a while, you'll end up with a mixture of all those that not only isn't realistic for any of those areas, it's unlikely to be a particularly pleasant mix no matter what the components are.

Having more than one gamer going at it in the house, will only make it even worse.

- smells tend to stick in clothes, carpets, etc, for a while. That's another reason why people turn on the fan, use filters and/or open the window when cooking, instead of just letting the whole house soak in it. Even without the obvious stuff like going to work smelling like shit after doing those WoW quests, it's one more factor to create an unwanted olfactory cacophony.

- allergies. I don't know of anyone who has an actual allergy to light, but real allergies to the chemicals that constitute any given smell, are actually not very uncommon.

Etc.

3. But yeah, that's even assuming that nobody would pull a realistic sewer level, nor a goatse/rickrolling to some clip of them doing a nasty fart, nor write some virus that makes such a device put out a continuous smell of shit at full power, etc. In practice, I'd expect such things to be more of a given than the exception. The same kind of idiot who posts a goatse link, now will likely do it with smell too.

But, oh well... as I was saying, I still wouldn't worry much. This will die a silent death like all the others before it, and likely the only inconvenience will be reading the exact same stupid idea in 2-3 years again, from yet another idiot who thinks he's so smart that he's the first to think that up.

Re:Also, don't worry much (1)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34915850)

#1 - "Everything has already been done, no need in trying to improve anything." Bollocks. We tried 3D once before, it failed. And while it's very possible the current 3D trend will also fail, I can easily see a time when true 3D without glasses will hit like a storm. Technology advances, new ideas are born, improvements are made.

#2 - Almost all of your downsides could easily be worked around if the delivery device was attached to the face / nose. As far as allergies go, I'd say epilepsy is pretty close to your "allergy of light" you mentioned. And just like people with that condition, I'd imaging anybody that finds out they have an allergy would simply not wear it. Which brings me to the rest of #2- most games won't require this device to function, and could easily be played without it. Yes, there will be some that use it in a gimmicky way that the entire plot revolves around, but these will be few, likely.

Case in point- there are many people who cannot play many Wii games due to physical impairments. There are many more who cannot play Kinect games because their living room is too small. Still, those are succeeding. You don't need 100% acceptance.

#3 - Some people might find that appealing. I grew up watching Ren & Stimpy, which was basically one big goatse / fart joke, albeit toned down for kids. Think of a kids game (or even guys in a frathouse) where you can cause fart smells to erupt in your friend's noses. You make it sound like children are going to have this device implanted in their brains and random internet trolls will suddenly inject the savory smell of ass into your nose without your consent.

Again, If you don't like it- take it off, turn it down, or don't play those games.

I think if this were done right, it could provide some great immersion. Everybody jokes about the sewer level making it sound like this will inject shit directly into your nose. An extremely faint smell, over a few seconds is probably all that is needed for the brain to register "oh man, this sewer stinks. I want to get out of here." After that, the game can let immersion take over and no further smells will likely be needed for a while.

Have you RTFA? (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34916828)

Have you actually RTFA? Because the gizmo there _isn't_ attached to the face, and is a verbatim repeat of everything that was wrong and stupid with the ones that failed, including basically all the factors I've listed, from lag to being unable to get rid of the previously produced smells.

So, sorry, my assessment that it's yet another idiot who thinks he's the first to do the same stupidity, is still very much true. Or to quote everyone's favourite wisecracker, Bejamin Franklin, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Yes, maybe someone else can do it right, but these particular ass-clowns aren't it.

Re:Vapourware, literally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34915520)

If everyone thought like you we'd be playing radiogames today.

Anybody else remembering the Activision game (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34916876)

The Leather Goddesses of Phobos ?

It came with a scratch 'n sniff card that was covered with various stinks (you smell , it stinks ,) that you would be directed to scratch over and get a waft of at various points in the game.

What a bunch of idiots we all were.

Sorry it wasn't an Activision game (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34916936)

It was Infocom.

Hey what do you want?

It was back in 1986. My memory isn't perfect.

Remember all those terrible Leisure Suit Larry games?

New prospects for Goatse... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913076)

Everything will smell like ass...

*sigh* (2)

spooje (582773) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913084)

Ok, some posting problems here. I meant to say: Great now we'll get: Grand Theft Auto: Detroit. Now with real hooker smell!

Re:*sigh* (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913148)

I think, that was the point -- to make player aware of how bad some things are.

Re:*sigh* (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913192)

It would've been perfect for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. For those of you who don't know (from the Wikipedia) :

The location brings in the need to rely upon native flora and fauna to survive.[16] This is manifested in a stamina gauge, which constantly depletes during gameplay.[11] Failure to restore the gauge by eating has detrimental effects on gameplay, such as decreasing Snake's ability to aim his weapon and being heard by the enemy due to Snake's loud stomach grumbles.[16] Food can be stored in the backpack until it is needed. However, some types of food rot over time, and consuming rotten foods may result in Snake developing a stomach ache, causing the stamina gauge to deplete faster.

And other in-game foods, especially poisonous ones, taste(though what we "taste" is mostly smell anyway) like crap right off the bat.

I'm thinkin' of something that tastes like sodium and tomato juice, with faint hints of onion and vinegar. Maybe floral accents, depending on what it was stuffed with. We used to eat it all the time back in the day...anybody remember what it was? Hey, what happened to my asterisk?

Re:*sigh* (1)

AhabTheArab (798575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34917354)

I'm thinkin' of something that tastes like sodium and tomato juice, with faint hints of onion and vinegar.

Pussy!

Re:*sigh* (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913226)

Leisure Suit Larry 7 (1996) did it with Scratch n Sniff cards, so did Leather Goddesses of Phobos back in the mid 80's and as far as LSL7 goes...it added about as much to the experience as you'd imagine. Decent gag, nothing much more.

Re:*sigh* (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914130)

Well, this better not cause the good ol' Gyruss video game to be remade with different smells for each wave. I don't want to have to smell Uranus.

Re:*sigh* (1)

Ozmodium (1395791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34917194)

Great now we'll get: Grand Theft Auto: Detroit. Now with real hooker smell!

I wonder what codes you need to send the device to produce the proper mixture of Cotton Candy and Shame?

Zombie horror games... (1)

mustPushCart (1871520) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913086)

will be a nightmare to play. I would imagine zombies smell really really really bad.

Re:Zombie horror games... (2, Funny)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913198)

On the other hand, Plants vs Zombies would be a great game to try this on. Mmmmn, lavender. Ewwwww, putrescence.

How about NO! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913088)

Plenty of games stink already.

Really i can only think of a few real uses for this... And honestly i don't want to smell any of those things either.

Re:How about NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913858)

Why not? All you need is a VR helmet and this device, and the smell of cooch will make it ultra-realistic.

Hopefully the in-game sluts have good hygiene though...

yuk (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913094)

I can't imagine this being pleasant for a game like Doom...

Re:yuk (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913278)

Smells like... blood.

*six hours later*

It still smells like blood.

Re:yuk (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914402)

More variety than you think...blood and dank, blood and burning plasma, blood and cordite, blood and ash/lava, blood and burning flesh, blood and rotting flesh, blood and bile... :)

Re:yuk (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34915024)

The rotting flesh is what I was imagining. I mean, you can't go down half a hallway without encountering something that's decaying and/or half-dead in that game.

Woah, this again. (2)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913134)

This is, like, a totally radical blast from the past. It was a blast from the past when the BBC brought back smellovision in '95, dudes and dudettes, and has been tried in one form or another since, like, a hundred years ago, man.

Also, using scent for video games would be totally bogus, since there's olfactory latency and stuff involved.

The real question is (2)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913136)

When will they come out with a fart app for it?

Re:The real question is (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913696)

When will they come out with a fart app for it?

Never... you see, StinkPad is already a trademark of IBM and iSmell is the name of the previous failure of this technology. Too crowded for Apple to try it now... *duck*

Fart apps? (2)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913140)

Now we now why Jobs didn't want anymore fart apps. It's one thing to hear farts, it's another to have to actually smell them.

Re:Fart apps? (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914414)

I think this would be ten layers of evil awesome. Release "fart app". Have 6 buttons for different farts. First 5 make the requisite hilarious noises, with no smell. Last one makes no sound, and releases ever-increasing amounts of fart smell the more the button is frantically pressed by user.

Waste of r&d ... for games anyway (1)

Boona (1795684) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913146)

I cannot imagine this taking off in any significant way. Can you imagine the sales person walking into ID Software and saying something like "What if gamers could smell Rage as well as see it? Huh? Huh? *Shrugs Eyebrows*

Virtual taco bell for the assist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913170)

This would be great. Just go drop a virtual load in all the best camping spots. At least you know the person who gets you is really committed to winning

I'll predict this product's success by saying: (2)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913206)

I have zero interest in this product. I don't want it. If it was on the market right now, and it worked perfectly, and it cost £1, I wouldn't buy it. If it was free, I wouldn't take it. It does not appeal to me in any way whatsoever.

Companies have been banging on about "smell-o-vision" for TV for years. I don't think anyone is interested in that either.

Scent cartridges? Jeez give me a break. As if anyone is going to waste money on smelly video games.

Re:I'll predict this product's success by saying: (1)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913422)

It's just because so far, the technology behind such products is not very compelling. You have significant lag, fans that blow the odor in your face, cartridges you need to replace, a very limited subset of odors, etc... of course, I'm not able to propose a better way to do this. But someone may find some day.
And I'm sure that if some day the technology is refined and leads to the creation of a smell synthetizer, it will be a big hit. It really has the potential to greatly improve the immersion in games or movie. Just watch when you think of the past... how smell is an important component of some old memories. And look at the great freedom perfume makers have at their disposal to go and create new smells...

Re:I'll predict this product's success by saying: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34917238)

It will be the next hyped up rage in the theaters that spawns countless re-releases and shitty gimmick movies. This could be implemented and maintained in a movie theater far better than a home.

I can see it now... You're at the movies, strapped into your hydraulic vibrating chair, big assed stereoscopic glasses on, with fucking smells permeating the room and fans blowing all over the place and high-capacity exhaust fans turning on and off the entire time.

Reminds me of that South Park episode where everyone is riding around on that convoluted bike contraption where they have to sit on a peg going up their ass. Or that Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode where Shake bought that cell phone contraption that he bought all the addons for and it was like a big fucking thing strapped to his back. lulz.

Re:I'll predict this product's success by saying: (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914044)

I'll raise that, and say if you paid me to take this, I would have to seriously consider whether it was worth the space it would consume.

Re:I'll predict this product's success by saying: (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34916814)

I wish I had mod points because this is the best comment I have ever seen on slashdot.

It isnt that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913276)

Jeez, I know it isn't the greatest of ideas but the hate here is incredible.

I can think of many many uses where people would like it and it all comes down to one thing: Immersion.

Gritty FPS shooter with the smell of cordite, ozone, napalm etc in the air? check
Racing games: What is that smell? Crap my engine is overheating! My brakes are shot!

Two non-idiotic examples right off the bat. Hell I could even see it being used in casual games as frail old grandma explores her a virtual Kew gardens and smells the roses.

Re:It isnt that bad (2)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913414)

I will give you an E for effort but seriously this is a bad idea. Think about the fact that once the smell is released it doesn't go away! It will keep spewing out different smells depending on scene but you have to remember the smells will overlap and it will just end up well stinking. If you were physically in farm country you would smell the area then if you made your way to a city it would smell like a city, with this it would just make your room reek like both at the same time.

Re:It isnt that bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913738)

An E?! Oh thank you dear sir, I am not worthy.

Why does everyone also assume that this will be spewing out great clouds of scented crap. position the emitter close to, and directed at, the nose in question and you don't need to push out that much. We have very sensitive senses of smell ya know (Parts per million IIRC) ; we wouldn't need to stink up an entire room.

I am of course assuming that they are not going overboard and constantly emitting clouds of scents. My earlier examples would be something along the lines of an occasional puff to heighten the realism or on occasional specific events rather than a constant stream.

Re:It isnt that bad (1)

loimprevisto (910035) | more than 3 years ago | (#34916584)

The immediate application that came to mind for this is combat trainers/simulators more than traditional games. Think of the ones used for military/police training or exposure therapy with PTSD. When you're trying to build confidence and muscle memory for life-or-death scenarios that extra bit of realism could certainly help the training.

again? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913288)

This is the second or third time such a product has been announced. I can see it now, computer viruses that make the user sick!

The sewers in almost every 1st person shooter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913426)

Nothing like the smell of stale shit and fresh napalm in the morning.

What's the big deal? (1)

sempir (1916194) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913486)

I'm 70 years old and do this for all occasions, accidentally and on demand.Grand children think I'm a genius!

OMG - AGAIN ?!?! (3, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913564)

This has been tried several times, starting decades ago.

Even though the smell systems 'can' be very effective, they have always had the same flaw. They may have others, but there is always the same big one plaguing them. They don't have a way to clear out the air without annoying the subjects. In other words, in a very short time, they just stink!

Imagine if music players didn't end the previous musical note, the cacophony would quickly become unbearable. It's the same thing with these smell-o-vision gadgets. Sure there's a way around it, but who wants to wear a mask the whole time, or be in a freaking wind tunnel? Nobody, that's why they fail.

Come on designers! Freaking google the stupid ideas and realize why they failed so you can either fix the problems or not be stupid enough to repeat the same basic design F-Ups of the past!

The Ultimate Peripheral (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913582)

How about Peripheral Vision? I'd like to be able to see NPC cars and bad guys out of the corner of my eye for a change.

Re:The Ultimate Peripheral (1)

llamapater (1542875) | more than 3 years ago | (#34917080)

i think the wide screen tv's or the 3d glasses guys are covering that 3d glasses with a motion detector for when you turn your head would be awesome for video games much better next logical step than 3d glasses alone or smellovision can even pop some high def headphones in em if you get cleaning down and get em to not look like the product of some dystopian sci-fi future i imagine those would sell

This has been around, and it STINKS (2)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913634)

And it was simply no fun.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.11/digiscent.html [wired.com]

We had this at a "cyber cafe" that I worked in toward the end of the '90s. There was a VR headset that allowed you to fly through different landscapes (i remember a musty smelling cave). This machine sat in the corner and collected dust.

Maybe when we get to the point where virtual worlds make us feel like we are actually standing somewhere different (and not just staring at the screen or wearing a headset), then we will need to tackle things like smell and touch. This will help our virtual world transcend that "uncanny valley".

For now, it's just not needed. It's a gimmick, and probably an expensive one. I'm not insisted it will never be needed, but just not now.

When we do finally need to need to tackle the "smelling" aspect of VR, my guess is that our immersion into the world will be so advanced compared to what we have now that it's being done by fooling our neurons, and not our eyes / ears / nose themselves. At that point, these devices will be moot, because we'll just be sending signals to the brain.

2 girls one cup (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34913804)

Because something that 2 girls one cup really was lacking was that added dimension.

Re:2 girls one cup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913978)

Or goatse...
Bleh!

Already tried (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34913866)

I remember seeing something about such a device years ago in some documentary on TV.

Does this really have a market? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914056)

Does this really have a market? I mean most hard-core gamers live in a basement room that smells like a dungeon anyway.

Re:Does this really have a market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34914106)

This is just a clever marketing ploy to sell them air fresheners.

Oh dear (3, Funny)

Bowdie (11884) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914098)

"Honey, are you playing Second life again?"

      "No sweetheart"

"So why does it smell like semen and cat hair in here?"

Re:Oh dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34917280)

because i've just fucked your cat to death?

No more sniffing my gf's underwear when watching.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34914128)

... porn :D

I can imagine it (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914204)

a Zombie creeps up from behind ... ...your character fails a Will throw .... ...o shit! I'm sure going to put a few more points in perception next time.

What does an Orc smell like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34914502)

Inquiring minds want to know.

Game Over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34914732)

You're a terrible player! Your score absolutely stinks!

[you start to hear a psssssssshhhhhhhh sound come from your console...]

An idea which has already failed (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34914956)

A company called DigiScents had a product called iSmell, I saw it at GDC quite some years ago. It worked, it failed, give up.

No imagination (1)

LS (57954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34915076)

You guys all have no imagination. Have you ever tried this? Can you not imagine it adding an interesting element to game play or other apps? Scent is the first of human senses, and is deeply tied in with memory. Also, you can think of it as a medium or a palette that can express both good and bad smells. When engineers first designed the monitor, everyone wasn't complaining that games would all have pictures of lemon party and goatse etc. Any game developer subjecting their customers to too many bad smells will have a game that doesn't smell.

Ooooh that smell, can you smell that smell.... (1)

klwood911 (731463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34915242)

Imagine the following games with smell added:

Terminator (oil and electric)
Half Life (Creatures and chemicals)
Need for Speed (Oil and Gas)
Army of Two (Gun Powder and Burning wreckage)

And these are the tame games. I'm sure I could come up with some others that would smell worse. Have a good gaming session and no one would come to your house anymore or they would call the cops figuring you were burning the place down with your new maserratti.

Need to refresh the chemicals in this (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34915742)

The problem with this is really simple. You will need to replace the chemicals in this that produce the scents every so often. The other problem is that it will only be able to provide the scents that it has the chemicals for. Of course, I could see game companies including a scent disk with the game and then selling replacement scent disks for close to the same cost as the new game.

History and careful what you wish for... (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 3 years ago | (#34916074)

I remember games having this back in the DOS days. Leather Goddesses of Phobos had that scratch and sniff pad that came in the packaging if I remember right. Also putting this in to some kind of a device would make companies like HP salivate. They're making a killing from printer cartridges already and now the possibility of scent cartridges? They'd be all over that I bet.

Do they have building blocks? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 3 years ago | (#34916232)

With visuals, we build everything out of red, green, and blue. With sound, we vibrate speaker cones to get a variety of sounds. Do such basic building blocks exist for smell? Are there base smells which can mix to make a wide variety of smells or will each game be limited to the scents the game-specific carts? Without a universal system in place for smells, I don't see smell ever being a major component in gaming.

Fine, as long as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34916342)

it doesn't replicate the scent of other gamers. Two words, folks: soap, sunlight.

this might be the worst idea ever (1)

llamapater (1542875) | more than 3 years ago | (#34917012)

That's what i want a peripheral that makes my house smell imagine a first person shooter like call of duty on that have your house smell like gunpowder, fear, blood, and shit that sounds pleasant or resident evil rotting corpse smell. Even if it's not an obvious bad idea video game what happens when you get smell cartridges running low, bad programming or a faulty smell thingy what awful smells will it produce then.

I hope war games become more realistic (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 3 years ago | (#34917230)

A friend of mine was on the "highway of Death" in Gulf I. He said the worst part was the stench of burnt decaying bodies. Or the smell of you team members after being in a scenario of two weeks game time without TP or showers. Or the smell of NPCs who lose a morale roll and pee and crap their pants.

It may make war less glamorous for all the arm chair warriors out there and make peace more attractive.

Speaks to the difficulty of simulating olfaction (1)

sseaman (931799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34917358)

Unlike stuff we see and hear, you can't describe what we smell on a single dimension, and that's why we literally have hundreds or perhaps thousands of different olfactory receptors, while we have only three major types of light receptors on our retinas - and, correspondingly, three different color signals in most color display adapters.

While this machine promises 20 basic scents, I suspect, even if they were delivered well and integrated into a game seamlessly, you'd grow bored of them quickly.

I could see some limited uses - warning a player of a nearby danger, for example, which would work well with the limitations of olfaction - unless sounds or sights, our olfactory system adapts rather quickly to smells. A brief exposure to a certain aroma might be effective at the right point in the right game, but for such little reward this seems like a rather awkward solution. That said, aromas can be quite evocative, activating our limbic system in unique ways that could provide for an in-depth experience far richer that we've seen before - for example, the smell of incense in an abbey, for me, might be the difference between "yet another generic abbey" and "this feels real to me."

No thanks for the first person shooters (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34917398)

I like to shoot, but too much, especially automatic, and the propellant gasses make me want to barf. It's hard to breathe in a cloud of that stuff.

Plus I've been in a war, saw the dead and burned bodies, and smelled them. It is not pleasant. And in that war game don't forget to add the smell of diesel and body odor from your comrades. Hey, let's add the smell of the burning shit cans under the outhouses if you want to get really realistic.

I'll keep my FPS scent-free, thank you.

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