Tokyo Smelling-Screen Demo Lets Scents Go Virtual

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Author: Nancy Owano

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“Scent-delivery” technologies continue to interest marketers, who are always looking for ideas on how to deliver an enhanced shopper experience.

Scent stimulation related to targeted products is one way to go. Now, a “smelling screen” has been developed by researchers at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) and it makes smells appear to come from the exact spot on any LCD screen that is displaying the image of a food item.

A peach or a steaming cup of coffee, for example, would lend the illusion that their respective smells were coming from the images on the screen direct to the viewer. The smelling screen was shown at the IEEE Virtual Reality conference in Orlando, Florida, which ran from March 16 to March 23.

The TUAT demo was titled, “Smelling Screen: Presenting a Virtual Odor Source on a LCD Screen,” by Haruka Matsukura, Tatsuhiro Yoneda, and Hiroshi Ishida.

“The smelling screen is a new olfactory display that can generate a localized odor distribution on a two-dimensional display screen,” they stated. While the user perceives the odor as coming from a specific region of the screen, the position of the virtual odor source can be shifted to an arbitrary position on the screen.

In fact, they said, the viewer can freely move his or her head to sniff at various locations on the screen, and can experience “realistic changes in the odor intensity with respect to the sniffing location.”

New Scientist’s explanation of how the technology works said that odors from vaporizing gel pellets were fed into four air streams, one in each corner of the screen. The streams are blown out by fans, and they can be varied in strength and direction.

Matsukura said a next step in their research will be incorporating a cartridge where smells can be changed easily.

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