Burlington virtual reality firm passes sniff test

BURLINGTON, Vermont (WCAX) – More technology companies are putting down roots in the Green Mountains, and despite Vermont’s unique size, a virtual reality company is sparking big change in the industry.

At OVR Technology in Burlington, virtual reality is the name of the game. But it was a novel idea about four years ago that sets this company apart from its competitors.

“I was driving down the street one day – up to 89 in fact – and called Aaron, who is also one of our co-founders, who I knew from his flavor and fragrance business. And I asked him, ‘Aaron, have you ever thought about smell and virtual reality together? And I’ll never forget what he said. He said, ‘I think about it all the time’ , said Dave Stiller, co-founder of OVR.

Fast forward and OVR Technology is the self-proclaimed virtual reality industry leader you can feel. Their MO is not virtual games, but rather virtual experiences to contribute to health and well-being – waterfalls, seashores or rose gardens to instill a sense of calm. When we tried it was a campfire experience roasting a marshmallow, and you could smell it.

But developments like this did not happen overnight. “There was no roadmap to follow. Everyone had a different opinion on whether it was a good idea, how it should work. So it was a lot of learning, kind of like building the plane while you’re flying, kind of a metaphor,” Stiller said.

It all started with a prototype and evolved into world-class technology that is produced on the shores of Lake Champlain by the OVR team. And their hard work is paying off, recently winning a well-recognized industry award.

“We feel like we’re on the right track, you know? We’ve worked really hard to get here and it’s good that that work is recognized and the product is recognized,” Stiller said.

At Augmented World Expo, the Burlington-based team competed against companies worth billions and won best of the show.

Co-founder Matt Flego and other team members say the award is really rewarding. “But really, at the end of the day, people have to really try it. And so that education process has to do with us doing tons of demos,” Flego said.

OVR technology currently works with a B2B business model, so you can’t get them for your home. However, they say they love people demonstrating their products at shows like the Auggies to show how realistic scent can make the VR experience. They say their stall often had a massive line of people waiting to try.

Flego says the industry is still struggling to provide users with a completely realistic experience, but they believe scent can fill a huge gap. With a prize in hand, the company says it will work to find new ways to bring people together via headphones. “The future for our industry is huge and bright and I think it will only get better from here,” Flego said.

Stiller says he hopes one day this technology can progress to connecting families. Her dream is to be able to put on a helmet and be able to smell your grandmother’s sunscreen or meatballs cooking on the stove without being there. Although that dream is a long way off, they have some quiet new projects in the works as their business continues to grow.

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