Thursday, May 9, 2013

Virtual Smellscapes: The Dead Man’s Nose

Via Dead Men’s Eyes

Stuart Eve, a grad student in archaeology at University College London, is the guy behind the Dead Men’s Eyes blog/project (“A mixture of Augmented Reality and Heritage. Bringing past-worlds to life.”). He’s just unveiled the Dead Man’s Nose (DMN), a virtual system that coordinates smells and sights with actual physical locations.
Using my embodied GIS [Geographic Information System] of the roundhouses on Leskernick Hill, Bodmin Moor, I set the DMN to fire off a smell of lovely Barbeque whenever I got within 20m of a roundhouse. I set the fan to run slowly at first and get faster as I got closer to the ‘source’ of the smell. The DMN performed admirably, as I walked within range of the houses I heard the tell-tale whirr of the fan and the next moment I had the lovely scent of cooking ribs. Future models will allow for more than one smell at a time (I just need a couple more computer fans) and also a better housing, a bit of 3D printing is in order! 
Now I can use the iPad to view the roundhouses overlaid onto the video feed, plug in my headphones and hear 3D sounds that get louder or quieter depending on where I am in the settlement and also I can augment different smells as I walk around. Not only can I walk around the modern day Bronze Age landscape and see the augmented roundhouses, hear the Bronze Age sheep in the distance, I can also smell the fires burning and the dinner cooking as I get closer to the village….
Readily available technology + clever design = an immersive olfacto- spatial- temporal experience. Neato!

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