Arranging sensations: smell and taste in augmented and virtual reality

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Kerruish, E 2019, 'Arranging sensations: smell and taste in augmented and virtual reality', The Senses and Society, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 31-45.

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The development of digital taste and smell underscores the importance of cultural dimensions of bodily perception in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices. This can be seen in Vocktail and Season Traveller, two digital devices incorporating taste and smell. Vocktail is an AR technology that augments the experience of drinking water, or even air, through the electrical stimulation of tastebuds and the manipulation of color and smell. Season Traveller is a VR game in which the user moves through four seasonal landscapes. It uses wind, odor, and temperature in addition to the more standard audio-visual displays. The cultural dimensions of these devices can be examined using phenomenological terms. They instigate perceptual circuits, and call on and create sedimented habits. Although VR and AR are often thought of in terms of their similitude to reality, understanding Vocktail and Season Traveller this way illustrates the world-creating dimension of multisensory devices. These technologies structure and shift thresholds of taste and smell, reworking past perceptual styles and habits to develop new perceptual experiences. In so doing, Season Traveller and Vocktail throw to the fore questions about the conditions according to which people exercise their senses in digitally dominated environments.

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