Future video chats might even transmit smells: See how
Modern-day internet messaging platforms (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger et al) have re-defined end-to-end conversations. You can call a friend anytime to see what they are doing or where they are. But, in order to make these conversations even more immersive, a group of scientists is exploring the possibility of transmitting smell via chats. Yep, SMELL! Here's how that could be a reality.
How smell could be transmitted on chat?
At present, no technology allows us to convey smell on internet-based chats. However, in recent experiments, scientists were able to trigger different smell senses electrically, something that suggests a system like that might be a reality in the future. They have envisioned a nose-like device that would sense odors and transmit them digitally to the receiver, along with sights and sounds, NBC News reported.
Here's how they electrically triggered a sense smell
A sense of smell is created when air molecules enter the nose and trigger specialized nerve cells, which deliver sensory impulses to the brain. The scientists used the same technique, but instead of using air, they employed weak electrical currents to trigger these neurons. They placed electrodes in the nostrils of 31 test subjects to deliver currents where the neurons are found.
The subjects sensed different odors, but with no control
The resulting, electrically triggered impulses, led the subjects to smell virtual creations of 10 different odors, including fruity, minty, and woody. Though they were not able to control which odor the subjects experienced, the team thinks the tech could be advanced to create a digital smell tech, where odors transmitted from that nose-like device would be received with some sort of glasses or goggles.
Imagine VR-based dinners!
"It's not just about the smell. It is part of a whole, integrated virtual reality or augmented reality," Adrian Cheok, one of the scientists involved in the project said. "So, for example, you could have a virtual dinner with your friend through the internet."
Possibilities are endless, but it's a long way to go
Having said that, it is important to note that the project is at a nascent stage and you won't see odors being transmitted anytime soon. However, the researchers believe devices capable of producing odors to enhance movie experiences could come much sooner. So, don't be surprised if you smell burnt rubber while watching a car chase in future.