Virtual reality system with scents for emergency trainings

Safety First! - Is the motto of the "StressScent II" project, in which researchers from Fraunhofer EMFT, in collaboration with the University of the Bundeswehr Munich, are developing a Virtual Reality System (VR System) that aims to better prepare, rescue and emergency personnel for potentially dangerous missions and stressful situations. Through realistic training engaging all senses, real-world situations can be simulated more accurately, thus contributing to a safer work life. The goal of the project is to develop a scent dosing system adapted to an existing VR headset for practical application.

Virtual-Reality-system with scents for deployment training
© Fraunhofer EMFT
Virtual-Reality-system with scents for deployment training

The scent dosing is done using microdosing technology developed by Fraunhofer EMFT. It consists of four piezoelectrically driven stainless steel micro pumps, each connected to a fragrance reservoir. This allows for the creation of fragrance scenarios, with each of the four fragrances being dosed for a single breath. Both the fragrance reservoirs and the micro pumps are mounted on the VR headset. The fragrance is directed near the nose through a tube and should ideally transport and release changing scents with each breath. The dosing volume, as well as the intensity and duration of the scent, can be individually adjusted from within the VR environment, so that a person can only smell a particular fragrance once. After one breath cycle, the concentration drops below the detection limit of the nose and disappears without being imprinted on the clothing surface.
The goal is to combine more than four fragrances in a miniaturized system in the future, allowing for the presentation of a single fragrance or mixed scents from multiple micro pumps simultaneously for a single breath. The implementation of these functions in the future could be possible with the currently smallest micro pump in the world. The silicon model of this micro membrane pump measures only 3.5 x 3.5 x 0.6 mm³.

The main application area of the research project "StressScent II" is the training of medical emergency personnel in civilian environments by means of a serious game. The game was developed by the University of the Bundeswehr Munich (Prof. Dr. Marko Hofmann) and will now be supplemented with an olfactory perception for a nearly complete immersion in a stressful situation, and to be examined with regard to the stress experience (Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Renner). 

Funding and funding identification:

The Smart Health Lab (SHL) at the University of the Bundeswehr Munich conducts basic research on the medical and psychological mechanisms as well as application research on the effectiveness of Smart Health technologies in training and the prevention of mental disorders in emergency personnel in civilian and military contexts. The "StressScent II" project, in the context of the SHL, combines the expertise of stress research, fragrance research, virtual realities, and sensor technology with the goal of using and studying fragrances in VR.

The Smart Health Lab is funded by the Center for Digitization and Technology Research of the Bundeswehr. is financed by the European Union's NextGenerationEU program.

Homepage of the SHL:

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Competence Field: Piezo Micropumps

Service Offering: Micro dosing system design