Researchers bring smelly video games care of Half-life, Far Cry

Chris ShevaThough not an entirely new concept, applying smell-technology to video games is damned cool – at least of course, until they start applying the same smelly tech to Resident Evil or some such. But anyway, yes, smell-tech is slowly wafting its way to video games, and a team from the University of Birmingham is doing just that!

Capcom Delays Versus Resident Evil 5 DLC - Image 1
Chris Redfield, explain yourself this instant!”
“Umm, just testing out the new smell-tech?”

Technological devices emitting smells aren’t entirely new – for example, Smell-o-vision. At least in terms of video games, the concept of applying this same smell-tech in games has been something I’ve read about since circa 1997. Here’s some substantial development though.

Led by one Prof. Bob Stone, a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham are now developing their so-called Scent Delivery System (SDS) with internally developed games using the Far Cry and Half-Life SDKs. In their tests, they were able to trigger their SDS peripheral to emit various odors depending on what happened in-game.

Take for example: smelling a burnt tire, walking through a marketplace, or gunfire smoke residue. As PhD student Mark Blyth (he’s also a former Royal Navy sailor) describes it:

The smell is activated when the virtual soldier walks past something like a market or a tiny side street, and the computer triggers the scent. What we are trying to discover is if smell enhances a personÂ’s perception.

Interestingly enough, this project is partially funded by the Ministry of Defense, and they want to use whatever findings of this technology as part of virtual military training for soldiers.

Currently, the SDS device is for the PC, but it doesn’t take too much a leap of the imagination to have these mass marketed and available across various console platforms. In a 2008 interview with BBC, Prof. Stone thinks it’s possible “within two or three years,” that we could find this peripheral end up in the living room as part of console gaming.

Now imagine: using this baby while playing through Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Dead Space, and uh… Leisure Suit Larry? Do you dare put your nose through such horror?

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Via Develop mag

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