New VR system transmits temperature with odors

Scientists from the United States introduced a new system of augmented reality (VR), which can transmit temperature using odors. She uses the capabilities of the human body.

Researchers at the University of Chicago have come up with a way to generate various temperature sensations in VR using the body’s features. Using specific chemicals, they were able to control the trigeminal nerve in the nose. It is he who makes users feel the heat or cold through the smells that they perceive.

Researchers have explained that this nerve connects the brain to most of the face and carries a lot of sensory information, including smell and temperature. However, some smells and temperature can be related: for example, when people smell mint, they feel cool, because this smell triggers the TRPM8 receptor, which reacts both to menthol and to temperatures below 25°C.

Capsaicin also triggers the TRPV1 receptor, which responds to temperatures above 42°C. This was taken as a basis in the development: the researchers worked with odors that cause association with temperature and a chemical at the same time. They called this phenomenon “duality of perception”.

Scientists also used the properties of pure capsaicin, which does not smell on its own, but can trigger the TRPV1 receptor in the trigeminal nerve. “The sense of temperature is largely localized on the face and definitely attached to breathing,” said researcher Jas Brooks, who was involved in the development. “I didn’t feel anything, only an increasing sensation of warmth, as if my face was warmed by sunlight”.

The odor delivery system in VR is small and weighs less than 100 grams. It consumes only 0.25 watts, which is 20-50 times less than analogs. “Energy efficiency is very important”, the researchers noted. Ultimately, any new VR / AR methods will succeed only if they are mobile. At the same time, three vials of liquid with a capacity of 1 ml are enough up to 6 hours of continuous operation”.

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