Smell-O-Vision Wafts Closer With New Research Project

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Forget 3D HDTV; here comes smell-o-vision! Maybe. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego and Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Japan have developed a smell-o-vision concept device, which could add another aspect of realism to what you watch on TV.

In a proof of concept paper, the testers established that it is possible to have thousands of smells come out of your TV by using a "compact device" that would attach to the back of a screen, or maybe even be built into a cellphone. The team built the device in such a way that keeps costs and circuitry down, but lets it produce around 10,000 scents.

The scents are created by using a water solvent such as ammonia; the solution is then stored in a compartment made from a non-toxic, non-flammable silicone elastomer. As heat and pressure builds in the compartment, a little compressed hole opens, releasing the smell.

Presently, the idea has just undergone testing using two distinct perfumes on the market. The tests showed that those exposed to the smells could not only tell the scents apart, but were also able to smell them 30cm from the testing chamber. Next, researchers will build the complete prototype to prove the concept is reliable (and doable!), before testing it with potential advertisers and audiences.

Although it's future is not certain, imagine watching a film in 3D as well as with the sense of smell. That said, I imagine that some smells could be distracting (like, say, the scent of chocolate chip cookies emitted during a cooking show). Gory movies possibly wouldn't be to pleasant to catch a wiff of either.

You can find out more about the science behind the possible smell-making gadget by reading the University of California's public release.

[University of California via Ubergizmo]

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