Home TECHNOLOGY VR experiences with temperature illusion

VR experiences with temperature illusion

We explore a temperature illusion that uses low-powered electronics and enables the miniaturization of simple warm and cool sensations.

Our illusion relies on the properties of certain scents, such as the coolness of mint or hotness of peppers. These odors trigger not only the olfactory bulb, but also the nose’s trigeminal nerve, which has receptors that respond to both temperature and chemicals. To exploit this, we engineered a wearable device based on micropumps and an atomizer that emits up to three custom-made “thermal” scents directly to the user’s nose. Breathing in these scents causes the user to feel warmer or cooler. We demonstrate how our device renders warmth and cooling sensations in virtual experiences.


Participants rated VR experiences with our trigeminal stimulants as significantly warmer or cooler than the baseline conditions. Lastly, we believe this offers an alternative to thermal feedback devices, which unfortunately rely on power-hungry heat-lamps or Peltier-elements. This work was done by Jas Brooks, Steven Nagels & Pedro Lopes from the University of Chicago’s Human Computer Integration Lab. This work was published at ACM CHI 2020 (full paper) and received a Best Paper Award.

Find out more at: lab.plopes.org



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