It stinks of rich white men, who overfund and constantly hype technology always on the verge of a breakthrough. VR Still Stinks has a festering odor of entrenched privilege, despite claims from its vendors that it encourages empathy and inclusion.
It’s too expensive and getting more and more. Meta and crypto community forays into VR make VR more rotten. Also, some complain, it smells bad: in virtual reality, nobody has legs. But perhaps more than anything, the metaverse sucks because it doesn’t smell like anything.
Smell is the blind spot of virtual reality. Most VR technologists don’t even notice the lack of odors or care about its consequences, even though compelling odor technology is available.
It could be said that smell is our most real sense, the sense that most grounds us in reality. If virtual reality is to fulfill its potential.
Smell helps us detect incoming threats. We will not eat food that smells rotten, and we will stay away from a hint of smoke or gas. We are evolutionarily programmed to respond to smells quickly and make lasting judgments about them.
Threat detection in smell also reminds us that we are vulnerable and blurs the lines VR Still Stinks between our body and the environment. All these factors deepen immersion, one of the main objectives of virtual reality.
Smell also raises the emotional stakes and places an experience within our personal histories.
For sight, hearing, taste, and touch, a stimulus travels from the sensory organ to the brain’s evolutionarily recent thalamus, which handles complex processing skills.
When an important memory is formed, you usually feel emotions. If you are also smelling something, memory, emotion and smell will merge.