adset that harnesses all five senses will create such a convincing virtual reality that it will be indistinguishable from real life, designers promised.
The Virtual Cocoon, unveiled today, will enable users to go on safari from the comfort of their own front rooms.
The headsest will enable users to experience the smells, heat, sounds and sights of places such as Kenya's Masai Mara.
A team of scientists from universities across the UK are working on the project. It is hoped that the device will be available in three to five years time.
The technology is described as a 'step change' in virtual reality.
Professor Alan Chalmers from Warwick University is working on how smells will be generated electronically in the device.
He explained: 'The idea is to produce a portable virtual reality device that you can use in the comfort of your own home
'This will be a huge step forward in comparison to today's virtual reality devices. Combining the use of all five senses will make the experience feel totally real - it will be unlike anything previously available.'
The device will be used for leisure and also for education and training.
It is hoped the headset will also give users an ultra realistic experience of history by providing sights, sounds and smells of day-to-day life in places such as ancient Egypt.
Designers are currently working on a price for the device which initial estimates place at around 1,500.
Scientists working on the 'Towards Real Virtuality' project will give the public a sneak preview of the ideas behind the device at the 'Pioneers 09' science showcase at the Olympia Conference Centre in London today.