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Sony Have A Patent For Smell Technology In Games

Sony Have A Patent For Smell Technology In Games

They’ve got a nose for these things.

Imogen Donovan

Imogen Donovan

Sony is known for pushing the envelope on what is possible in games, and aims to improve upon its technology with every generation. It only follows that its team has developed something that triggers smells while you're gaming for further immersion. Right. Sure.

This isn't an exceptionally new technology, as smells have been used in all sorts of industries to incite certain responses from customers. You've likely walked past an Auntie Anne's or Krispy Kreme shop and inhaled a healthy lungful of the sweet scent of pastries straight out of the oven. If you managed to resist the temptation to turn around and buy one for yourself, then you are a being of incredible power and discipline. Those smells are being pumped out of the shop and into the street in order to attract people, and nine times out of ten, it works.

Or, consider how smells like pine, cigarette smoke, cherry blossom, fresh laundry, hand sanitiser, and so on make memories appear in the forefront of your mind. In a study concerning laboratory mice, they were trained to fear the smell of the chemical acetophenone (it smells a little like the cherry on a Bakewell tart). The next generation of mice had that same reaction to the smell, in spite of never having encountered it in their lives. Ergo, it's evident that smell carries significant weight when it comes to survival and navigating our everyday lives, so Sony wants to integrate "smell-o-vision" into its future games.

This patent for digital smell technology was actually filed in 2000, but it's hit the headlines as its expiration date has been extended. As well as proffering different smells to the player based on what's going on in the game, it attempts to account for competing smells that would have "positive, neutral, or negative interactions" with the core smell.

Ghost of Tsushima /
Sucker Punch Productions

In other words, the smell of a burning building in Ghost of Tsushima could be accompanied by the smells of a freshwater stream and a cattle farm nearby. Kind of cool. The practicality of this invention, however, is questionable. Say a player arrives at this burning building, then decides to fast-travel to a shrine. The smell of the "smoke" would still be lingering even though the player had left, and also, the technology probably wouldn't have the same effect for other people in the same room.

I could definitely see this being added into PlayStation VR, where the player is immersed in the environment of the game. As the patent has only recently been adjusted, it's possible that Sony is thinking about developing a peripheral that employs this technology. Personally, I think I'd like to see the banana controller first.

Featured Image Credit: Square Enix

Topics: News, PlayStation