Sensory Acumen’s Game Skunk Is Part Video Game Enhancer, Part Therapy Tool

Eureka Park played home to a whole host of interesting companies and projects (some of which were arguably more interesting than the stuff you’d find on the actual CES show floor) and our first stop was clearly a winner. Meet California-based Sensory Acumen, the creators of curious a scent-generating device called the GameSkunk.

Yes, I know, they should probably work on their branding, but the name does a decent job of explaining what the gadget does. In short, the Game Skunk is a small black box that emits different kinds of odors in an attempt to create a more immersive video gaming experience. It’s not exactly the newest concept out there — the Game Skunk first hit the scene back in 2011, and devices like the ScentScape take a very similar approach to smell-centric media enhancement, but it’s heartening to see the team still plugging away at it.

There’s a much nobler goal here as well — in addition to just enhancing the level of immersion gamers feel as they trek across a digital landscape, the Game Skunk is also meant to be something of a therapeutic tool. By exposing, say, combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to smell-enhanced recreations of war zones, SensoryAcumen hopes to help them cope with the sorts of sensory triggers that make acclimating to life at home so difficult.

Speaking of war zones, that’s exactly the locale that SensoryAcumen took us on an olfactory tour of. While the Game Skunk wasn’t actually running while we were filming (ignore me crouching in front of it like a lunatic), the folks running the booth fired it up just as soon as the camera turned away. It wasn’t long until the device began pumping out a scent highly reminiscent of gasoline as the video demo placed us inside a Humvee rolling through a ruined desert town. Granted, the sketchy CGI quality of the demo made that full immersion unlikely, but Sensory Acumen has made an API and SDK available to game developers who want to bake smell support into their projects.