Manipulating Scent Droplets with Ultrasonic Transducer Arrays

My current research focuses on the manipulation of nebulised scent droplets through the process of ultrasonic particle manipulation. The aim of this research is to develop a novel, sophisticated and discreet system capable of increasing perceptions of immersion with virtual, augmented and multi-sensory environments.

Technologies developed with the aim of providing users with increasingly immersive multisensory experiences continue to focus primarily on audio and visual stimuli. Within the field of HCI, research into the remaining senses; smell, taste and touch is wide ranging, and through the development of increasingly complex and sophisticated systems, may in future be as widely available as a source of sensory stimuli within virtual and augmented multi-sensory environments. Whilst solutions designed to introduce scent stimuli to VR gaming exist in the form of fan-based systems, these may not be an ideal solution for users seeking a more sophisticated and discreet design. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1-e1619810839575.png

The development of bespoke arrays of ultrasonic transducers will enable us to create an acoustic field directly in front of the user. The acoustic energy created by the ultrasonic arrays creates a focal point in which nebulised scent droplets are isolated before entering the user’s airways.

We will also be looking at the development of a lightweight, 3D printed custom nebuliser which will disperse bursts of droplets into the acoustic field. During initial experimentation, our studies have involved a medical grade nebuliser and particulate matter sensor (PM5003) to determine the sucess of ultrasonic transducer arrays on nebulised droplets.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-e1619811230538.png

The ultrasonic arrays will be designed to work in combination with existing virtual reality hardware – mounted to commercially available VR headsets.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1-1-e1619811028229.png

This research was originally presented at the ‘Smell, Taste and Temperature Workshop’ at CHI 2021.

Download the workshop paper here.