“Smell-o-Vision” display emits localized virtual odors

[From Gizmag; see also Google’s April 1st entry into this space, Google Nose BETA]

smell screen

“Smell-o-Vision” display emits localized virtual odors

By Darren Quick
April 1, 2013

Localized dimming is a feature found in many televisions these days, but what about a display capable of producing localized smells? That’s exactly what a team from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in Japan has created. The “smelling screen” that was recently presented at the IEEE Virtual Reality 2013 conference in Orlando, Florida can produce odors that appear to emanate from specific areas of the screen.

Over the years, we’ve seen various products that have tried to bring an olfactory dimension to everything from mobile phones and the internet, to computer games and movies. So far, none has really tickled the public’s fancy – or olfactory receptors. But this hasn’t stopped Haruka Matsukara and his team from producing their own take on the olfactory display system.

Instead of a one-odor-source-fits-all approach, the team’s smelling screen uses four fans positioned at the corners of the screen to create a virtual odor source that appears to come from a specific area of the display. Instead of simply blowing the odors towards the viewer – or smeller – the airflows generated by the fans collide together before being directed out at the viewer, so the smell appears to be coming from the screen rather than the fans.

By adjusting the balance of the airflows, the virtual odor can be made to emanate from different regions of the display. In this way, the user can shift their head to smell different objects displayed on different parts of the screen. The airflows can even be adjusted down so that the user perceives only the odor and not the air streams themselves.

While probably not a “must-have” technology for home use, Matsukara believes it could find applications in advertising displays and museum exhibits.

Source: IEEE PubMed, IEEE VR 2013 via New Scientist


One response to ““Smell-o-Vision” display emits localized virtual odors”

  1. Victoria Miniscalco

    Having a minor in psychology, I have learned how powerful ones sense of smell is and how ones sense of smell can provoke many emotions and memories. It is amazing that the smell-o-vision technology is in its early stages and that someday this technology may be available to the general public. Although I think that this is a great accomplishment and the technology is amazing, I don’t think that this will be a product realistically seen in homes around the world. I think that it is great that the four fans incorporated in the technology help to give the illusion that the smell is coming from a specific area of the TV, but I think that having fans shut on and off while viewing something would only cause me to turn my attention towards the fan. I also wonder what kind of programming the smell-o-vision would be compatible with. I know that some things I watch on TV probably don’t have a pleasant smell and I would rather not smell it. I also don’t think that the technology will be sophisticated enough to produce all of the smells you see so I don’t know what will determine which smells will be produced and which smells will not. I think that this could have an effect on a viewer’s experience. I also think that as all of these technologies become available it will take away from the presence experience and as they become more common making the strength of the experience to become less and less. I feel there is a time and place for an experience such as an amusement park or an arcade, and if we make technology like the smell-o-vision available to all it will become something that people wont seek out anymore and may not enjoy as much because it is so common.

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