This is how virtual reality technology currently stands in terms of our five senses:

Sound We can now easily record, playback, and reproduce sounds, not to mention synthesise and create completely new sounds that we can’t find naturally thanks to digital sound
Sight We are close to visual mastery of our sense of sight.  The human eye approximates a 100 Megapixel (MP) sensor at slightly less than 60 frames per second (we can even fool the eye to see smooth motion at 24 fps).  Taking into account that our vision is stereoscopic, we would need the capability of rendering 100MP for each eye at 60fps:          100MP x 2 x 60fps = 12 000MP/sec.   Our current top end Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) can render a theoretical maximum of close to 40 000MP/sec so we have the capability of rendering far beyond what is required.  However, these GPUs don’t have the ability to create photo-realistic scenes, even at resolutions lower than the required 200MP, but that could well be made possible soon given the advancements in the field of vision e.g. the development of a bionic eye
Smell There is currently very little popular work in the field of smell recreation because of the lack of commercial application for such technology, however there are companies researching and creating products that can generate aromas according to XML protocols.  ‘Japanese researchers are hoping to have a commercially available 3D television on the markets by the year 2020.  The television would not only show the scenes in three-dimensional virtual reality, but would also let you experience the smells and “touch” the images on the projection
Touch Although it’s mentioned above that research is going into touch technology, touch is a difficult sense to simulate because without direct manipulation of nerves; physical hardware would have to allow resistance so we experience the sensation of feel, whilst remaining unintrusive in our homes, schools, workplaces or whatever specialised environment the technology is made available.  To reproduce touch, researchers are looking into several methods including ultrasound, electrical stimulation and wind pressure 
Taste Currently, taste would be the most difficult sense to recreate because whilst the other senses can be manipulated via external means (i.e. sight and sound via speakers and monitors, smell through aroma generators and possibly touch through ultrasound), a food simulator would either require direct manipulation of the nerves or a mechanism placed inside the mouth which is intrusive.  There are augmented reality taste technologies such as the TagCandy and the MetaCookie that manipulate our senses into believing we’re eating something different to what we’re actually eating, but, a current research into the complete simulation of food requires a device for the user to chew register the force of the bite and provide appropriate resistance.  The device can also augment the experience by squirting chemicals that stimulate basic taste sensations whilst a speaker plays back the sound of the chewing jawbone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s