Gaming Smells - It's a Fact

[[Smell You Later]]

This year's CES show, Thursday - Sunday, Jan. 6 - 9, 2005, in Las Vegas, is eagerly expected by many since Microsoft may choose to unveil its XBox Next and XBox Next HD there. This year however, if it is a revolution in gaming and a change in the entire gaming experience you are looking for, maybe you should steer clear of the MS booth and instead, look around for an excited industry professional, looking somewhat out of place surrounded by eager game developers.

You are on your knees in the bushes, your eyes dart around the garden as you look for her; the sweet smell of jasmine is flooding your nostrils, the smell of a summer's night in Morocco. You fire your silenced weapon and the scent of jasmine is immediately replaced by the acrid and strangely familiar stench of gunpowder. You have eliminated the guard, now you can approach your contact. The feeling of the rain on your body invigorates you and the light drizzle helps cover the sounds of your footsteps as you approach. Just as you do however, she is bundled into a dark 4x4 which leaves half its tires on the surface of the road and disappears in a cloud of dark smoke. The only thing your beautiful and elusive contact has left behind is the stench of burning rubber and an agent stranded behind enemy lines.

Can you imagine the scene above as part of a game? One, essential, part of that story would be missing if it were a game. It is a rare occasion when a completely new sense is utilized by game makers but a new device, doing just that will be introduced at CES 2005.

How important is your smell when gaming? How can feeling the rain, the wind or heat and cold enhance the gaming experience? If the above story doesn't convince you that sensing your environment, including its smells, can help immerse you in a game's atmosphere or that smelling your own socks when gaming is not the best way to enjoy the experience we will let the device creator try and do that.

In a worldwide exclusive, MegaGames has put a few questions to Sandeep Jaidka, creator of SAV Products, LLC, the company behind this promising new development.

The Invention

The big challenge for the device and the man behind it, of course, is to convince gamers of the importance of smell in a gaming context. The device, which already has a patent in place in the U.S., is almost ready to roll out since its importance in advertising cannot be disputed. Imagine a coffee ad which allows you to sample the delicate aroma of freshly roasted beans on your way to work, or the ad for the fast food joint which has you salivating all the way to your local outlet.

It is all about getting people to try it claim experts; once they do they will wonder how they did without it for all these years. The importance of smell may be subtle but once experienced it is bound to become a requirement for most gamers.

[[The Q & A]]

MegaGames had the exclusive privilege of putting a few questions to Virtual Smells inventor, Sandeep Jaidka, a few days before his product is presented to the public in the 2005 CES show in Las Vegas.

Could you tell us a few things about yourself? (Studies, past work etc.)

I am a Graduate from Delhi University. My previous invention is Air Pollution Control Device USA patent number 5606495 and UK patent number 2288254 (Sensor controlled bottled fresh air), a device invented to protect city dwellers from breathing polluted
air. Since 1997 I have been working on Smells and Sensations USA patent number 6152829. Already commercially viable products have been successfully tested and will be launched soon. For further information you can visit my website SAVproducts.

In the past, a variety of similar products have been announced in the media with little or no follow-up information. How is your product different? How near completion is it?

Yes, I am aware of a few companies like Digiscents etc, they went out of business once my patent was granted, there have also been a number of smaller companies that have presented the idea to the marketplace but have not been able to successfully launch products due
to my patent, presently a spin off of France Telecom, Exhalia, is looking for investors for this very same invention. France Telecom has been granted a patent in France and Europe, after my patent was granted in the US so their patent claim is suspect.

How did you become inspired to create such a device?

My inspiration comes from deep concentration which helps me in generating creative ideas,this idea struck me in a plane from Indonesia to India in 1997, on the, in-flight, screen a film of snow covered mountains was shown and the weather was hot inside the plane, as I was already working on sensing devices it immediately gave me an idea of combining both to provide reality effects, some time later Chinese cuisine was about to be served and I could smell it at the other corner of the plane ,this is how smells got added.

The product is also described as providing sensation, what exactly does that mean? How will it be implemented?

Sensations of feeling i.e. the change of climate, the feeling of rain, wind, hot, cold and likewise, these effects presently can be done at Virtual reality theatres and on Home theatre systems later with nearly all multimedia devices, these would be mere attachments to existing systems and of course with new products.

What uses do you see for the product? Is there an industry interest in working with it?

The invention has a number of application areas such as:

a)The video game industry
b)The Movie industry
c)The advertising industry through cable, television and the Internet.

Some other applications areas being currently considered are medical, education, aroma therapy etc.

Are there any consumables i.e. smell cartridges etc. involved? If so what will the price range of the device and consumables be? Will private home use be a feasible option?

Smell cartridges are easily replaceable without opening the dispenser. Smells are propelled by air as the bellows are depressed. So, they do not use any other propellants and as such are ideal for home/professional use. Costs will be high for small quantities because of tool set-up costs, but will be available at much lower cost
as demand (and therefore supply) increases.(USD 200 to 300)

MegaGames readers would be especially interested to know details of gaming uses for the product and if any plans are already in place. What would the practical possibilities / restrictions be?

Yes, gaming is our top priority. We anticipate a big demand for smells that enhance realism to already very sophisticated games such as gun smoke, burning rubber etc.
Other than the challenges of developing andimplementing the unlimited combinations of smells into dispensing units we do not anticipate any problems.

Could you give us a basic description of how the device may implement its smell and sensation functions in a gaming setup?

Smells are released by physically depressing the bellows-shaped cartridge by an electro-mechanical dispenser which is initiated from a signal directly from the games software via the USB(or games-box)port.

How many smells can be utilized before having to change cartridges?

Each cartridge contains a smell - 4 smells are available from a standard dispenser. (Dispensers could be produced with up to 200 different smells). Smell
cartridges will last for several months regardless of how often the game is played.

When do you plan to launch the device?

At CES Show 6 to 9 Jan 2005 Las Vegas.

How soon would it be realistic to expect content ready for use with smell and sensation?

Its all set for the launch within 3 to 4 months.

Can you give us a hint of what your next venture may be?

Virtual Reality will meet Reality. While I am always working on my new invention, I
believe that the smells area has so much potential that it will keep me busy for a very long time.

Our next venture will be to bring the dimension of smells to the home, as you know a significant number of homes in the US and world over are already wired for cable and
have PC's at home, which will allow us to bring smells through cable and over the Internet. This we believe will bring significant innovation to the advertising
industry. You will literally be able to smell the coffee.

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