Virtual reality has already mastered sight and touch, two of the five senses. Now, video game maker Ubisoft is trying to bring a third sense into the virtual world—the sense of smell. Probably not in a form you're keen to try, though.
The Next Web reports that as an accessory to its upcoming South Park game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which features farting as a gameplay element, Ubisoft has created the Nosulus Rift—a device which will give you the eye-watering experience of smelling the game's farts in real-life.
Forgive the pun, but there's just so much to unpack here.
My first question was how exactly this technology is supposed to work. Does the mask burst open little stink bomb micro-capsules according to signals sent by the game? Or does it use the odiferousness of the average South Park fan against him—a gas mask attached to a giant rubber diaper that directly pipes the smell of a player's escaping flatulence into his or her own nostrils? According to the first cosmic rule of farts, this mechanism would make a lot of sense—he who smelt it usually dealt it. But who would buy such a device?
As it turns out, no one. Ubisoft apparently recognizes that the Nosulus Rift has limited consumer appeal, and so the headset will instead go on tour. Gamers will be able to try it for themselves at this month's Gamescom, the second biggest gaming event in the world.
Have you ever been to Gamescom? I have. But before I get to that, let me tell you a story. Because I want to put this all in perspective for you.
Once, several years ago, I farted the worst fart I ever farted. I wasn't sick or anything, but my involuntary expulsion was so reek and pungent that it caused my wife, who is blessed with a powerful sniff machine, to immediately—immediately, as in the amount of time it takes for a light bulb to illuminate a dark room—throw up. Later, in describing the smell, she compared it to the stench of a forgotten chicken parmesan sub that her college boyfriend had once accidentally left in her microwave for six months, at the moment when she finally flung open the door to discover it in horror.
This, I assure you, is what Gamescom smells like. And let me tell you something. If I were at Gamescom, I would happily put on Ubisoft's South Park-branded fart gas mask. Because compared to the stench of 183,000 gamers tightly packed into an ill-ventilated convention hall, a mouthful of Cartman's virtual ass biscuits would be a literal breath of fresh air.
Fast Company's senior design reporter, everyone! Good night!
[All Images: via UbiSoft]