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Jaw wide open. Words fall out. ‘Yeah, yeah. It’s all very well with your Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for 3D graphics. And your headphones for 3D audio. And those vibrating Touch controllers. But what you really need is a taste explosion. Taste!’

I shrugged my shoulders. Because I was not sure.

Arkwood continued. ‘Look,’ he said, spittle collecting on his bottom lip, ‘my mouth is watering for some of those lovely Skittles sweets.’

He had arranged two piles on plates next to the computer.

Here’s how we are going to bring the sensation of taste into VR…

The C++ Microsoft Visual Studio application (with OpenGL graphics library and the Oculus SDK for Windows) will randomly load one of two possible landscapes for us. Either a tropical landscape:

Or a winter landscape:

Not only that, but the code also sets up some Text-to-Speech using Microsoft Speech API (SAPI):


if (rand() % 2 == 1) {
	cubemapTexture = loadCubemap("skybox_tropical/", faces);
	sapiClient->TTSPhrase = "Put the tropical sweet in your mouth";
else {
	cubemapTexture = loadCubemap("skybox_winter/", faces);
	sapiClient->TTSPhrase = "Put the winter sweet in your mouth";


Arkwood put on the Rift headset and began to wander about the virtual rooms. When he got near to the door out to the huge wide landscape, the Text-to-Speech engine intructed him to put the skittles in his mouth:

if (!sapiClient->IsActivated && position_z > 10) {
	sapiClient->IsActivated = true;
	sct = std::thread(&SapiClient::play_tts, sapiClient);

If the tropical landscape had previously been loaded then he is asked to put the tropical flavoured lemon and lime skittles into his mouth. The fembot in his Rift headphones says “Put the tropical sweet in your mouth”.

If the winter landscape had previously been loaded then he is asked to put the winter berries flavours into his mouth (the red and purple ones). The fembot in his Rift headphones says “Put the winter sweet in your mouth”.

Perfect. Now our virtual worlds can not only have immersive visuals, sounds and touch – they can also have a taste to match the experience! Zesty tastes that remind us of those long hot summer holidays, and warm berry tastes fit for a frozen scene.

Here’s a video of how Arkwood got on eating the sweets as he wanders towards the door to the outdoors:

‘It’s a bit like Pavlov’s dog,’ my buddy announced, ‘Now whenever I see a tropical landscape my mouth starts to water for those lemon and lime sweets!’

I shook my head. No! No! I screamed. That’s not it at all. We are not using skittles to condition ourselves, to associate a certain taste with a visual landscape. Instead, we are using the lemon and lime flavours we already associate with palm trees and sunny skies to further immersive ourselves in the VR experience.

‘Well, I feel like a dog,’ was all he replied. And he went off into the kitchen, barking and sniffing.

That’s the problem with Arkwood. He’ll have you think he acts more intelligent than he is.


P.S. I picked up the ‘mp_petesoasis’ and ‘sb_frozen’ landscapes from Custom Map Makers.