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Coming to a Telepresence Screen in the Future: Smell-O-Vision

June 18, 2011 | William Zimmerman
smell-o-vision - coming to telepresence systems of the future.jpg
Recent research has shown that real "Smell-O-Vision" is possible for telepresence systems of the future, researchers at UC San Diego and the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology demonstrate. According to researchers, from a compact device, small enough to attach to the back of a monitor, thousands of odors can be created. 

This system, which could release smells during a TV show or movie, has the ability to make Hans Lube's Smell-O-Vision system of the 1960's possible. Using a system that has 200 controllers that selectively activate thousands of smells, as many as 10,000, this machine can emulate the full spectrum of smells distinguishable to humans.

It works by vaporizing a water-based solution with the use of a small metal wire, which in turn causes smells to emanate from the small chamber (which is constructed of a non-flammable silicon based elastic polymer).

The system has the ability to replicate smells due to its full spectrum of smell emulation. According to Sungho Jin, professor at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, "...if people are eating pizza the viewer [of the display] smells pizza...and if a pretty woman walks by, they smell perfume." To that end, Jin says the system "[i]nstaneously [generates] fragrances or odors [that] would match the scene shown on a TV..."

Not knowing what the future holds for a device of this nature, if it were to detect smells and directly emulate them in another setting, it could add another dynamic to the already important totality of experience needed for a true telepresence environment. 

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