Adding taste and smell to the digital experience

Sending scents via the internet is a future reality thanks to research from Mixed Reality Lab in London.

Image: Adrian David Cheok

Adrian David Cheok, Professor of Pervasive Computing at City University London and the Director of the Mixed Reality Lab, wants to script the next chapter to the internet. It’s a chapter where all of our senses could be stimulated through the use of technology.

Currently, our digital participation limits are set at the audio, visual and more recently, haptic experiences. Cheok says he aims to go beyond that. He wants to create a multi-sensory platform, which includes taste and smell, enabling entirely new types of communication experiences.

According to Cheok, the information age allows us to share limitless data but we are still lacking when it comes to sharing experiences. For Cheok, an experience is about stimulating the five senses.

A primary focus area of the research is on including the olfactory senses within the digital communication platform.  

“It’s still a very big research issue,” he says. “How do we replicate the sense of touch, taste and smell?”

Unlike touch, audio and visual stimuli, which we can produce through light and sound waves and send anywhere in the world through the internet, taste and smell can't be mimicked by technology. Scent and taste are molecular-based senses and as we know, we can't send molecules over the internet.

Cheok’s mission is to create technological hardware that acts as sense output devices: devices that are able to deliver scent and taste over a digital platform. On the MX website Check says: “I’m striving to form a new sensory vocabulary, that redefines what we experience. It involves using cutting-edge neuroscience and engineering disciplines, to push past the limits of what is currently possible.”

Image: Adrian David Cheok

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