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Food Lion billboard disperses the smell of steak during rush hour, from 7 to 10 a.m.

Would you pay for a printer that released a smell linked to what you are watching on TV? Sounds intriguing, just imagine a watching a pizza commercial, then suddenly the room fills with the smell of fresh pizza out of the oven. On the flip side, what if you were watching a commercial on a mother changing her baby’s rotten diaper.

Scent-assisted movies were first tried in the mid-20th century. AromaRama pumped scent into a movie theatres air conditioning, while the rival Smell-O-Vision had its own dedicated system of pipes.

However, both were complete failures, with noisy machinery or patchy odours.

Enter the ink-jet printer; the idea is to generate suggestive aromas to complement images on your computer or TV, like a flower garden or a cooking show, you could possibly even program it to release a certain scent every time a picture of your child appeared on your computer screen.

According to Kenichi Okada of Keio University in Tokyo, ink-jet printing technology can do the job.

“We are using the ink-jet printer’s ability to eject tiny pulses of material to achieve precise control,” Okada said.

Currently, most ink-jet printers, use a pulse of current to heats a coil of wire, creating bubbles that force a small volume of ink down a tube and onto the page at high speed. The Keio team using the same hardware to squirt scent

Working with printer maker Canon, they converted the guts of an off-the-shelf printer into what they call an olfactory display, capable of rapidly switching between four aromas.

The next obvious step would be to work out how to automatically sync scents with pictures, if it works, a single ink-jet machine might serve as both printer and odour projector, says Okada.

However, this project is going to be far from easy to complete, a few simple fragrances might work, but how are they going to synthesise all the scents they need to make this a viable product?

[Cheers Newscientist.com]


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