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Narrative/storytelling Play/Games VR/AR

Smell Like Home

"Smell Like Home" is a VR+ scent exploration game that searches for different definitions of "home" and immerses players in several recreated virtual environments that resonate with my emotions and memories. Using special camera equipment, players can capture the essence of home at three life-turning points through three different scents.


Olivia Yin


Sharleen Smith


"Smell Like Home" is a VR + scent exploration game that revolves around the concept of home and how to discover it through the power of scent. As I grew up and moved away from my childhood home and parents, I began to wonder what home really meant to me. This project offers a unique personal journey through the use of an Insta camera to capture images of objects that remind one of the scents of home, such as the lychee tree or coffee cup. The captured images trigger the scent camera to release the corresponding scent, thus evoking memories and emotions associated with home. The entire game journey has a relatively linear structure, containing five levels, including an introductory level and an end level, both of which are within the camera, as well as three memory levels that tell the story of past occurrences in reverse chronological order. Within each level, there are multiple interactables that encourage players to explore and interact freely, in no particular order. However, there is a key object at each level. Players need to interact with that key object in order to move from one scene to the next.

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Odors have a unique ability to evoke powerful memories and emotions associated with a person's childhood. This is due to the fact that the olfactory system, responsible for detecting and processing smells, is intricately connected to the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for emotions, memory, and behavior. The ability of odors to evoke powerful memories and emotions from our childhood makes them an important tool for understanding our personal history and identity.    

Technical Details

This VR project is made with Unreal Engine 5 for Meta Quest 2, with a 3D-printed physical scent camera working as an add-on and diffuser. When the player takes pictures in the virtual world, Unreal Engine will send OSC messages through WiFi to the Arduino, activating the air pump from one of the three channels, and then the airflow passing through the air tube and scent filter will reach the player’s nose with scents. The physical camera is modeled in Blender, 3D printed with ASA and PLA materials, sanded to smooth, spray painted with color, and finally sealed with a matte finish. In addition, Motion Capture, Mixamo, Blender, and Motion Builder are used for modeling and animating partly objects and two characters.

Stop motion to show inside of physical cameraCamera display