NTT Docomo and collaborating institutions in Japan are developing the world's first sensation-sharing technology, allowing users to send movements or tactile sensations digitally. In the future, Docomo plans to build on this technology by allowing users to share other sensations such as taste, hearing, and emotions. Scent is the one sensation that people least expect to play a role in immersive experiences. But studies show that smell is highly evocative and can trigger memories that transport us instantly to another place or time. Experience designers are now experimenting with scent as a narrative device to engage viewers more deeply. At Cannes Film Festival 2022, Indian film director A.R. Rahman premiered Le Musk, where viewers watched from immersive VR chairs by LA-based Positron that also incorporate motion, pitch, and haptics. The Feelies, a London-based multisensory extended reality studio, provided the sensory direction with bespoke scents.
Japanese scent technology company Aromajoin is bringing multisensory experiences to the home with its Aroma Shooter, a digital scent device premiered at CES 2023. The technology can synchronize smells to videos using “solid state” cartridges, with the ability to instantly toggle between different scents.
Researchers are working to find the right balance of sensory immersion, as 64% of people expect digital and virtual experiences to activate all their senses, yet 54% feel that multisensory experiences are overwhelming. Thus, adaptive entertainment is being developed to adjust to individual preferences based on biomarker metrics tracked using artificial intelligence (AI) and affective technologies, such as facial recognition. Coltan Scrivner, a behavioral scientist at the Recreational Fear Lab, is developing a VR game that learns what users are afraid of, so they can keep users in the sweet spot where they’re having the most fun.
Sensory Techtopias is a trend in Wunderman Thompson Intelligence’s new report, The Age of Re-enchantment.