New Smell Tech Could Make VR Therapies More Powerful
"An emerging trend in virtual reality – incorporating smell – could be exciting news not just for gaming but for health care as well."
January 19, 2023
"A growing number of hospitals across the country are using virtual reality to help patients manage pain, overcome phobias, and calm anxiety..."
Amores has researched connecting VR with smell to enhance a person's response. In one experiment, she had participants wear a VR headset that depicted calming nature scenes and a smart necklace she developed capable of releasing a lavender scent. When bursts of lavender were added to the VR, the participants reported feeling 26% more relaxed than they had without the scent. A device that monitors brain activity confirmed it: The participants' physiological response had increased by 25% when the scent was added.
At the international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held earlier this month, Vermont-based OVR Technology unveiled a headset with eight primary aromas that can be combined to create thousands of scents. The ION3, as it's called, is scheduled to be released later this year.
Smell-enhanced VR therapies could be explored for all kinds of clinical uses, Amores says, like treating anxiety, sleep disorders, or even Alzheimer's disease (smell is linked to memory).
VR 'exposure therapy' has already been used to treat PTSD in military veterans, immersing them into a virtual environment that triggers a traumatic memory, desensitizing them to the memory so they learn their thoughts are safe."