This VR mask accessory aims to bring real smells to virtual worlds

Hardware makers are still trying to perfect the visual aspect of the best VR headsets with increasingly higher resolutions and wider fields of view, but what about the other senses? Well, a company called FeelReal is hoping its to up the virtual ante with a multi-sensory mask.

The standout feature of FeelReal's new (but not really new, more on that in a minute) mask is that it contains a "reliable scent generator." Through the use of 9 individual aroma capsules, the company claims it can deliver 255 different scents.

"Imagine the depth of interaction when users can truly feel themselves on a racing track and actually smell burned rubber. Or being able to grasp the feeling of being on a battlefield complete with the intense gunpowder odor. This is what the multi-sensory virtual reality experience is all about," FeelReal says.

I haven't been able find a full list of scents, so it remains to be seen if charred zombie flesh and maybe even putrid orc farts are part of the package. If not, it's only a matter of time before they will be, right?

Beyond bombarding your nose with different smells (gross or pleasant), FealReal's VR mask accessory offers a range of tactile sensations:

  • Water Mist: Users can feel the rain on their cheeks with the ultrasonic ionizing system.
  • Heat: Sense the warmth of the desert with safe micro-heaters.
  • Wind: Enjoy the cool mountain breeze with two powerful micro-coolers.
  • Vibration: Endure the impact when force-feedback haptic motors kick in. 

The mask is purportedly compatible with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, as well as PlayStation VR, Oculus Go, and Samsung Gear VR. It connects to any of those headsets by way of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and sports magnetic mounts that are supposed to keep it firmly attached.

FeelReal plans on bringing its VR mask accessory to Kickstarter. Here's the thing though—FeelReal tried that already in 2015, and failed to receive the necessary funding. This one looks to be mostly the same, except back then, the odor generation system consisted of seven cartridges instead of nine. There was also a helmet to go along with it.

Only 86 backers pledged less than half of FeelReal's $50,000 funding goal at the time. While the concept is the same this time around, it does look to be a slicker solution. We'll have to wait and see if there's enough interest for something like this, though. Based on past flops like Smell-o-Vision, we wouldn't give it good odds.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).