Do Multisensory Stimuli Benefit the Virtual Reality Experience? A Systematic Review

IEEE Trans Vis Comput Graph. 2022 Feb;28(2):1428-1442. doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2020.3010088. Epub 2021 Dec 30.


The majority of virtual reality (VR) applications rely on audiovisual stimuli and do not exploit the addition of other sensory cues that could increase the potential of VR. This systematic review surveys the existing literature on multisensory VR and the impact of haptic, olfactory, and taste cues over audiovisual VR. The goal is to identify the extent to which multisensory stimuli affect the VR experience, which stimuli are used in multisensory VR, the type of VR setups used, and the application fields covered. An analysis of the 105 studies that met the eligibility criteria revealed that 84.8 percent of the studies show a positive impact of multisensory VR experiences. Haptics is the most commonly used stimulus in multisensory VR systems (86.6 percent). Non-immersive and immersive VR setups are preferred over semi-immersive setups. Regarding the application fields, a considerable part was adopted by health professionals and science and engineering professionals. We further conclude that smell and taste are still underexplored, and they can bring significant value to VR applications. More research is recommended on how to synthesize and deliver these stimuli, which still require complex and costly apparatus be integrated into the VR experience in a controlled and straightforward manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Graphics
  • Haptic Technology*
  • Motivation
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Virtual Reality*