Nowadays, when a friend says her TV stinks, you assume she's talking about picture or sound quality. Some years down the road--assuming certain cross-Pacific R&D pans out--she might mean that literally.
Researchers at the University of California at San Diego are collaborating with Samsung to develop a compact odor-generating component for TVs and cell phones. The as-yet-unnamed device would give television programs and Web sites a palette of 10,000 odors.
Sure, people have been trying to add smell to visual media for a long time (Smell-O-Vision anyone?). The UC San Diego-Samsung collaboration, however, is pushing the technology closer to reality. Miniaturization and digitization are cracking the big challenges of odor-on-demand systems: control and variety.
Odor pixels are the key: a 100x100 matrix of tiny wires will make it easy to heat any one of 10,000 tiny liquid-filled containers.
It'd be cool to catch a whiff of ocean during a beach scene, or take in the heady odor of woodsmoke as a campfire flickers onscreen. But I'm thinking the smells have got to be totally natural. Otherwise, the intense pine forest experience I'm expecting might turn out to be a subliminal cue to break out household cleaning products. Maybe Samsung could offer an eco-organic version. … Read more