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Digital Nose Stimulation Enables Smelling in Stereo

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A subject wearing the device that can detect virtual smells.

Researchers at the Human Computer Integration lab at the University of Chicago have developed a way to augment our sense of smell with a small piece of nose-worn hardware that uses tiny electrical impulses to give us the power of directional smell.

Credit: Human Computer Integration lab/University of Chicago

Researchers at the University of Chicago (UChicago) have developed a wireless, nose-worn device that can enable directional smell using tiny electrical impulses.

The battery-powered hardware has magnets to keep itself attached to the inside of the nose; it can detect inhalation, and employs electrodes to stimulate the septum and trigger the trigeminal nerve.

The model, which connects with external sensors, works well enough that completely untrained people can use it to localize electrically-triggered virtual odors.

UChicago's Jas Brooks said, "The sensation our device produces can feel like a 'tickling' or 'sting,' not far from that of wasabi or the smell of white vinegar, except it is clearly directional."

The stimulator could be used as an assistive device for people suffering loss of olfactory function.

From IEEE Spectrum
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