CES 2023: Smell and Touch Coming Soon to Digital World

Driver-X’s VR gloves simulate the feel of physical matter by applying pressure to the wearer’s hands.

CES 2023: Smell and Touch Coming Soon to Digital World
Photo of Driver-X co-founder Kei Asano

LAS VEGAS, January 3, 2023 – Presenters at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday showcased new products that can add the sensations of touch and smell to the digital world.

Augmented and virtual-reality technologies have rapidly gained in popularity in recent years, driving demand for the higher quality broadband that their use requires. Many systems, like the Meta Quest series, are comprised of headsets and hand controllers, which limits the number senses users can virtually experience.

Japanese hardware startup Driver-X presented a “glove-type VR controller” that allows users to feel as if they are touching objects in a VR space. The gloves simulate the feel of physical matter by applying pressure to the wearer’s hands, and internal sensors translates the wear’s hand movements into the virtual world, the company said.

Following the presentation, Driver-X co-founder Kei Asano told Broadband Breakfast that the gloves vary pressure applied to the wearer’s fingers, simulating the virtual experience of touching hard or soft surfaces through a glove. Asano said that the glove controller is currently being marketed for manufacturing and medical use cases.

Aromajoin, another Japanese startup, announced the AromaPlayer, an application which uses proprietary hardware to combine visual and olfactory media. “After picking up a video from your own library or by using a YouTube link, you can start to create by simply add scent on the timeline to setup the perfect smell, timing, and duration,” Aromajoin’s press release said. Aromajoin’s hardware holds “scent cartridges,” which release various smells into the air on command.

In a subsequent presentation, Steve Koenig, vice president for CES’s host organization, the Consumer Technology Association, predicted increased popularity of immersive technology in the coming years. Koenig touted the products of OVR Technology, another exhibitor at CES, which develops olfactory technology for virtual reality.