fbpx
Merck Foundation and African First Ladies marking World Cancer Day 2023 through 110 scholarships of Oncology Fellowships in 25 countriesRead more Supporting women leaders and aspirants to unleash their potentialRead more Fake medicines kill almost 500,000 sub-Saharan Africans a year: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reportRead more Climate crisis and migration: Greta Thunberg supports International Organization for Migration (IOM) over ‘life and death’ issueRead more United Nations (UN) Convenes Lake Chad Countries, Amid Growing Regional CrisisRead more 11 Disruptive Startups Selected for Cohort 3 of the Africa Startup Initiative Program (ASIP) Accelerator Program powered by Startupbootcamp AfricaRead more Africa Data Centres breaks ground on new Sameer facility in NairobiRead more Coffee with a human face: A union that improves livelihoods for Ugandan farmersRead more Trends Predicted to drive the retail industry in 2023Read more Vantage Capital exits Pétro IvoireRead more

Stop and smell the metaverse roses: Virtual world on display at CES

show caption
A man at CES tries out OVR Technology's ION 3, which emits smells when a user interacts with items a VR environment./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Jan 10, 2023 - 02:28 AM

LAS VEGAS — Immersive technologies that can better lives, whether helping people treat dementia or learn to pilot fighter jets, is the future of the metaverse, virtual reality startups say.

Some entrepreneurs at the annual CES gadget fest that ends Sunday in Las Vegas were eager to combine real and virtual worlds to help people stop and smell the roses.

The company OVR Technology has created an accessory for VR headsets that treats users around a faux campfire to whiffs of smoke and toasting marshmallows.

Smell is essential to the metaverse, said OVR Vice President Sarah Socia, because it’s “the only sense that is directly connected to the limbic system, a part of the brain crucial for memory and emotion.”

The Vermont-based startup also has a prototype of another device that can hold scent cartridges created by users through a mobile app.

Japanese “digital scent technology” company Aromajoin is also betting that the metaverse will be a place of many smells.

“It’s like before smartphones, we didn’t know how big a part they would play in our lives,” Aromajoin’s SeonHoon Cho said of scent in the virtual world.

Slowly taking shape 

When Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta in late 2021, it signaled faith in the metaverse becoming the center of online life, and the company continues to invest in that future despite profits suffering.

“Metaverse these days is very likely to be met with skepticism,” said Steve Koenig, a vice president at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which organizes CES.

“I do think that the term metaverse still is somewhat speculative in nature.”

But the metaverse is starting to take shape through various applications and devices, Koenig said.

The Indian firm AjnaLens believes immersive online experiences can help solve unemployment problems and the lack of skilled labor.

The company has designed an AjnaXR mixed reality (virtual and augmented) headset, which is lighter than existing models so it can be worn comfortably for hours.

Businesses use it to teach workers how to handle tools for jobs such as welding and painting, adding joysticks or haptic gloves that bring a hands-on feel to the experience.

“VR has a multiplied impact on the part of the brain where you store things for life,” AjnaLens co-founder Pankaj Raut told AFP.

“It’s like when you learn to ride a bike, you never forget it afterward.”

Fighting dementia? 

French startup SocialDream has also designed its own mixed-reality headset adapted to its virtual world content –- imagery that stimulates memory in Alzheimer’s patients.

Founder Thierry Gricourt said he wanted to project the videos “in a bubble.”

His prototype, named Dreamsense, “is not tight on the face, and the lenses do not hurt the eyes,” Gricourt said.

“And there will be sensors that measure emotions in real time.”

Meta unit Oculus and rival HTC virtual reality headsets are still mostly used for gaming at this stage.

The CTA expects 3.1 million VR headsets to be sold in the United States this year in a 20 percent increase from 2022, while sales of augmented reality glasses are expected to double to more than 380,000.

For now, businesses seem to be embracing the technology more enthusiastically than non-gamer consumers.

The company Red 6 is testing an augmented reality system for training fighter jet pilots without the expense or risk of actual flights.

“Right now, the metaverse is kind of a solution in search for problems,” said Red 6 founder Daniel Robinson.

“What we have done is the absolute opposite. We’ve found a really compelling use case for the technology, solving some critical problems that actually need to be solved.”

  • bio
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • latest posts

MAORANDCITIES.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.