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Television Entertainment Idle Technology

Practical "Smell-o-Vision" System Being Developed 210

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-show-stinks dept.
cylonlover writes "Researchers have managed to create a proof of concept Smell-o-Vision device potentially capable of pumping out thousands of different odors, yet small enough to fit behind a TV. The device has 200 X-axis controllers and 100 on the Y-axis that could selectively activate each of the 10,000 possible odors stored within numerous non-flammable silicone elastomer compartments."
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Practical "Smell-o-Vision" System Being Developed

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  • Sweet! Now I can not only see fat people working out in HD but I can smell them sweating too!
  • Really? (Score:4, Funny)

    by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:37PM (#36530432)
    With all the crap that's on TV now...
  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:38PM (#36530450)
    Can you seriously think of any movie where you'd want to experience every smell?
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Not yet, but you are thinking small and locking into the old way.

      Assuming this is good and works.

      You could have a show on flowers and smell them, or a show in perfumes, or give an example to someone learning chemistry what a reaction may smell like. Or sue it as an alarm system for the deaf and blind..or the arise of new puzzle games where scent is a clue.

      Hell, I could think of 100's of uses. Ironically I can not think of how to make money from them

      • by AdamThor (995520)

        Advertisement:
        Here, have a smell of our food or personal scent product, wouldn't you like to buy it?

        Advertisers are the only people I can imagine wanting something like this.

        • if you could duplicate the smell from the device, why buy the perfume? This has no point for TV.. but if you could dial-a-perfume, well, now you're talking!
    • by grumbel (592662)

      Could take a while till movies would be designed in such a way to make use of it, if ever, after all one of nice things with them is that they can show you all crazy stuff while you sit at a safe distance, smell could bring you a good bit closer then would be comfortable. I think the most likely use for Smell-o-Vision would be advertisment, as it could make all those pleasant pictures of food and stuff make smell even more pleasant. And as far as I know, it already is used in shop malls for that purpose for

    • http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082926/ [imdb.com]

      With "smell-o-vision" you would avoid the need for the scrath-and-sniff Odorama card [wikimedia.org].

    • Can you seriously think of any movie where you'd want to experience every smell?

      Scent of a Woman?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nerzhul (1969786)

      Of course not EVERY smell, but this could become a nice stylistic device to increase immersion.

      Just imagine a scene in a forest or at the ocean where you can actually smell the wet earth or the salt. Done right, this would be much more exciting than that 3D thing...

      • by chinton (151403)
        Imagine Lost before they get into the Hatch... Do you really want to know what Hurley smelled like after a month-and-a-half in the tropical heat with no shower?
    • by hedwards (940851)

      You wouldn't use every smell available in every film. The way I imagine it being used is more like music. Most of the time it's in the background barely noticed as things progress, but from time to time taking center stage.

      It's been known for some time that scents have a powerful connection to the human mind, and I can totally see that being used to create a more immersive experience, especially if 3D technology keeps advancing.

      Plus, if we ever develop the technology for a genuine holodeck we're really goin

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Natalie Portman: The Motion Picture

    • Can you seriously think of any movie where you'd want to experience every smell?

      Anything on the food network.

      Actually, as a rather smell oriented person, it would greatly increase my immersion in pretty much any movie and I would be all over this if it was cheaper. I'm sure I'm not alone on this either.

    • Apocalypse Now (napalm), Rambo (especially the scene where he is dipped into a vat of pig shit), Superstar (now we can all smell her pits), and The Big Labowski (for the contact buzz).

  • I smell (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:38PM (#36530456)

    $5000/gallon refill bottles, inkjet cartridge style. While a neat idea - how do they propose to co-ordinate the speed of diffusion of the smells through the room - with fans or something? Or will it become mandatory to sit exactly X distance from your TV in order for the system to work? The device should go in the remote control you keep next to your chair/couch/bed, not behind the television on the other side of the room.

    Also this has the potential to backfire tremendously. While we humans are not anywhere near as dependent on our sense of smell as other creatures, smell has played a fundamental part in evolution and is wired into a very primitive part of our brains. The reaction to smell is subjective, and smells deemed unpleasant or linked to unpleasant memories will quickly lead to people ripping these devices out and throwing them away. If you think you have trouble with epileptics and certain cartoons, wait till you have people throwing up or flying into rage fits because of smells.

    • Or allergic reactions. Certain smells, especially certain colognes, can give me migraines. You can bet they'd be on the forefront of using the technology if it were available.
      • by vlm (69642)

        Or allergic reactions. Certain smells, especially certain colognes, can give me migraines. You can bet they'd be on the forefront of using the technology if it were available.

        Beer before the big night out, smells like nectar of the gods.

        Beer after waaay too much of the big night out, smells like insta-vomit.

    • Isn't it possible to orthogonalize the space? For printing we need only 3 primary colors (or 4 if you count black).

      Wouldn't it be possible to get a similarly small set of "primary odors"?

      • by wjousts (1529427)
        No. Despite centuries of trying, nobody has identified a set of primary smells. People still aren't [wikipedia.org] sure how [wikipedia.org] the nose even manages the trick of smelling in the first place.
      • Odors are not light. The sense of smell is designed to inform of the presence of certain chemicals (whether as a warning or as an enticement). Therefore, the sensory receptors for smell respond to a wide range of chemicals that often have little or no relation to each other.
    • Or will it become mandatory to sit exactly X distance from your TV in order for the system to work?

      Well, they're currently trying to get us to buy into 3D TV which requires exactly this. Actually, that's a good idea - you can embed the odormaker IN THE GLASSES, which ensures it's next to your nose and gets rid of all the diffusion and lingering-odor problems.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        Great, here, have your 15lb set of eye-glasses. Remember if your partner wants a pair they're only $999 each :)
        • We're already having to sit exactly in one place for the 3D glasses to work - perhaps they'll be like those 50-cents-a-use tourist binocular emplacements and they attach firmly to the couch...?
    • by karnal (22275)

      Well, I personally have never had trouble with epileptics.

  • Every couple of years, another one of these devices is offered up for sale. Why does this keep coming around? Is there really a demand for artificial scents with every TV commercial? Do we really want to be smell-o-vision while we're watching The Hangover?

    Seriously, if you think this is a great idea, please reply and tell us all why...

    • by geekoid (135745)

      A) it's great for advertisers.
      B) Some nature shows
      C) Scent puzzlers.
      D) Custom scents.
      E) The ability to smell things on other planets. What does mars smell like?

      Why does slashdot think that this sort of thing would be on all the time, an for every show?

      • by vlm (69642)

        E) The ability to smell things on other planets. What does mars smell like?

        The inside of a vacuum tube, pretty close.

        Or if you "cheat" and imagine it compressed up to 1 bar, then still very much like nothing. Not much organics there, not much sulfur, its going to be like the inside of a mylar helium balloon except blander.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          You're right, OTOH, something is giving off a gas.

          However, it was an example to illustrate a use for 'distance smelling'.

      • by jeremyp (130771)

        E) The ability to smell things on other planets. What does mars smell like?

        Why does slashdot think that this sort of thing would be on all the time, an for every show?

        as long as you don't make me smell Uranus.

        I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all.

        Oh. What's it called now?

        Urectum. Here, let me locate it for you.

      • by wjousts (1529427)

        A) it's great for advertisers.

        An often trotted out use, but how exactly? Considering that you have to physically send the smell to the consumer in the first place, isn't it easier just to tell them to smell the thing on paper (like in magazines) rather than tell them to put it in some expensive Rube Goldberg machine to do the same thing?

    • by wjousts (1529427)
      Yep. Every few years they insist there's a huge untapped consumer market for this and then they disappear without a trace. See iSmell and Trisenx for two examples.
  • Bear Grylls and smell-o-vision? Better drink my own piss.

    • by wjousts (1529427)
      Actually, he'd probably smell of the fancy herbal shampoo and body wash he used that morning while staying in the fancy Marriott hotel between shooting his "survival" show.
  • Primary Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meerling (1487879) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:40PM (#36530494)
    If it doesn't have a method of removing the smells, it will fail like all the others.
    (You do know these things have been failing since something like the 1950s, right?)

    I read the article, and it sounds like they don't have a solution for this. Heck, they even talk about using coffee beans between testing smells to act as a nasal palette cleanser. I'd guess from that little tidbit that not only have they not solved the problem, but have definitely encountered it in use and have no clue what to do.
    • by Jeremi (14640)

      I'd guess from that little tidbit that not only have they not solved the problem, but have definitely encountered it in use and have no clue what to do.

      They do have a solution -- include a free bag of coffee with each unit.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @12:41PM (#36530530) Homepage Journal

    It's an amusing gimmick, but they don't seem to have solved the problems that have plagued scent delivery systems before: odors don't evaporate that quickly. Audio and video disappear the instant you stop creating them, but odors linger. That's a problem of the room, not the device.

    Devices like this have been discussed hundreds of times before, and I'm not quite sure what makes this one "practical". I imagine it's some great bit of engineering that lets them carry 10,000 individual scents and deliver them quickly, and I'm sure that's a neat trick.

    It might even be handy for some applications in flavor and fragrance labs: punch in a formula, get out a sample instantly rather than having to drag out all of the source materials and mix them up. That's tedious and time-consuming work, and if you have to tweak, you generally have to start over.

    • by myrdos2 (989497)
      What about a vent?
      • by jfengel (409917)

        A vent certainly helps, but if you've ever opened up a window in a musty room, you'll find that the problem doesn't evaporate immediately.

        This proved a big problem for smell-o-vision in theaters, which are REALLY big spaces. They tried installing huge fans, but it was noisy and not effective enough.

        Obviously a living room is smaller than a theater, but it's still got a lot of surface for odor molecules to cling to. They tend to be much heavier than air, and often partly ionized, so they cling to fabrics e

    • by wjousts (1529427)

      It might even be handy for some applications in flavor and fragrance labs: punch in a formula, get out a sample instantly rather than having to drag out all of the source materials and mix them up. That's tedious and time-consuming work, and if you have to tweak, you generally have to start over.

      Or it would be, but it doesn't appear to mix or even allow proportional control of the single aromas. So really, it's equivalent of opening a pre-mixed bottle.

    • It's an amusing gimmick, but they don't seem to have solved the problems that have plagued scent delivery systems before: odors don't evaporate that quickly. Audio and video disappear the instant you stop creating them, but odors linger. That's a problem of the room, not the device.

      Since this is discussed in relation to TV, yes, it's a problem with the device too. It's not merely a question of the scent lingering when you turn off the TV; if the scene changes or you switch channels and have two conflicting scents (A bakery and a war-torn battlefield) that hang in the air with equal weight--or even 2:1 or 3:1--it could easily ruin any sense of immersion you might have had.

      It might be an interesting way to do marketing (imprinting a place with a custom scent), especially in a mall, con

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      I think the problem will be lack of demand as well. Only cologne/perfume is marketed by smell.

      Someone suggests this will be used as background music, maybe like the main girl enters the movie for the first time and you get a pleasant scent that sorta becomes her signature.... but if smell was so hot at selling, wouldn't they have used it in low tech applications already? Perhaps a slight wiff from a movie poster, or those displays at a theater?

      Maybe it becomes a real art in a couple decades, where you wal

      • by jfengel (409917)

        Actually, scent is used a LOT in retail. Not just in the perfume counter: you can hire companies to design a signature scent for your store. It's basically a big Glade air freshener, much simpler than this device.

        It works for a whole store. It may not work so well in a public place, where movie posters are displayed, but there's a good chance that there's already a smell there. Not all of that popcorn smell comes from the popcorn machine. Really.

  • ...want to know what Snooki smells like after a night at the bar?

    I'm sorry but this sounds like and even bigger gimmick than 3D.

  • by Yvan256 (722131)

    Just because you can doesn't mean you should do it.

  • In the living room, light and sound both travel from the screen to the eyes and ears at an incredible speed, which gives us the illusion that both video and audio are occurring simultaneously, no matter where we are in the room.

    However, these chemical reactions that produce odor take a bit longer to reach the viewer (smeller?). How long, I don't know. Assuming the device is centralized and not strapped to each viewer's nose, different viewers will experience the odor at different times depending on their po

  • All those printer cartridge makers who force you to replace the whole cartridge when you run out of just one color are salivating at the prospect of selling a replacement scent cartridge with 20000 different tanks.
  • ... this will really start to take off once there is an application for porn.
  • in the concentration needed of different compounds in order to smell them. Some compounds can be smelled at ppb levels while other take much more. So some "compartments" would make do with just a few mg of a compound while others might need much more. Also, the volatility and diffusivity of different compounds would make it hard to control how much gets delivered to your nose. I suppose one could heat the compartments individually as needed but the first point seems hard to overcome.

  • I'd like to see affordable retina quality big screen displays before I'd pay for any other frills.

    Talk to me about a way to make that happen and I'm all ears. Talk to me about smell-o-vision and you sound like you just finished huffing a can of WD-40.

  • There is nothing practical about making me smell whatever horrible smell they'd want to send me over a TV... ever.

  • do not rent the Terrance and Phillip movie
  • this isn't one of them!
    Not even close.
    Besides, what's next? People with anosmia requiring close captioning to describe the smell?

    This is an excellent example of, just because it's possible doesn't mean it's a good idea.

  • I guess Harold Zoid's career is over then...
  • get ready for a punch in the face
  • With the re-re-remake of the original Star Wars Trilogy, you can experience your favorite scenes like never before! Enjoy the musky unbathed scent of a "walking carpet"! Writhe in fear and stench in the garbage compactor! Remember the revelation of Luke's father with the smell of cauterized flash floating through your living room! Ever wonder what ewoks smell like? Now you can find out in Star Wars Smell-D!
  • It's easy to get smells out of a box.

    Then the box eventually starts to smell like that gum your mom kept inside her purse...

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @02:06PM (#36532064)

    There are people that cannot smell in stereo! What about them?!

  • by Arlet (29997)

    What is going to happen when I quickly zap through a few dozen channels ?

  • I went to college with several people capable of generating 10,000 possible odors -- each accompanied by their own unique sound effect.
  • now my tv can fart.

  • ...when someone comes up with a Smelloscope.

  • Right around when we were all to be partying like it was 1999? There was in the hype of the .com boom, and subsequent bust the promotional idea that this was a great idea and someone came out with a 4000 smell combo unit for the market. Nobody wanted to smell that crap, so it never sold. I think the biggest market is to test the porn industry smells, get them perfectionarily perfected and then it is no longer a proof of concept vapor ware IPO POS.
  • Hopefully, this will spell the end of reality shows like Survivor. Stick a bunch of people in a remote wilderness and film them running (and sweating) through awful challenges... then transmit the result via smell-o-vision. "What's that stench?!! Oh, not Survivor again! Every time you watch it we need to whip out the air fresheners for the rest of the week. Turn it off now!!!"

  • Oh, I so cannot wait till this thing is hacked! Make your neighbors house reek when they have loud parties. Make all football games smell like old jock straps.
  • Just think of all the air fresheners, perfumes, candles, and other things that humans have created to give off artificial scent. Do they ever smell like their labels? There are only a few scant smells that have ever accurately been recreated.

    I don't knock the technology behind this. I just knock humans ability to put enough proper smells into the thing to make it function and make it believable.

    If it works, it makes me think of that aviation ride at Disneyland. That was always my favorite, and they did a pr

  • "Political 'Smell-o-Vision' System Being Developed" and thought to myself, "How hard can that be? It just needs a crap scent to work."

If a subordinate asks you a pertinent question, look at him as if he had lost his senses. When he looks down, paraphrase the question back at him.

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