The Oculus Rift may seem like a gadget snatched straight out of science fiction, but for some virtual reality fans the VR headset still doesn’t go far enough. Now, one company is pushing the limits even further with a Kickstarter project that promises to include all five of your senses in every virtual experience.
FeelReal promises to take virtual reality to the next level using smells, wind, heat, water mist and vibrations to make the experience as realistic as possible. The company even sells a variety of scent capsules online, ranging from cookies and strawberries to fire and rain.
There are two ways to experience FeelReal. You can combine the company’s VR mask, which covers the bottom half of your face, with a headset like Oculus Rift. But for the full experience you’ll want the Nirvana helmet, which covers your entire head while using a smartphone as the display.
The mask, which comes in black and white options, still offers plenty of functionality. It can vibrate, release water mist, create odors, blow cool air on your face and heat you up. It also packs a Bluetooth microphone and a battery that should last four hours per charge. You can pre-order the mask for as little as $250 and receive the developer kit in July, or pay $300 for a more polished version that ships in September.
Meanwhile, Nirvana offers everything that comes with the mask, while adding a broader field of view and better 3D audio. It also means the device’s other VR effects can be felt on your entire face, and not just the lower half. The helmet features magnetic clip design for adding extra effects, along with comfortable padding and built-in ventilation.
It’s available in three different sizes and packs a 6-hour rechargeable battery. You can order an early prototype of Nirvana for $500, which should ship in August. The first consumer model is available on Kickstarter for $600, though it won’t arrive until October.
FeelReal isn’t just hardware. The company also plans to offer its own software with a FeelReal Player and an open SDK. That should make it easy for any game developer to add in smells, temperatures and everything else with just a few clicks.
There are always risks backing a project on Kickstarter, and delays are certainly possible with FeelReal. This is a real product though, and the company’s already proven its concept works with live demonstrations at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year.
There’s something very alluring about FeelReal, though at the same time it comes across as a bit of a gimmick. Will this be the next Smell-O-Vision or an actual game changer? It’s too soon to tell, but if you’re not afraid to find out here’s your chance.