The late 1950s and early 1960s were the heyday for theatrical and televised gimmicks, such as William Castle’s buzzers-in-the-seats gig for The Tingler or his fake insurance policies taken our for horror movie audiences, lest they be scared to death during one of his features. It was also the time for the battle between AromaRama and Smell-O-Vision to see who could better bring smells into the visual medium. Given their flash-in-the-pan status, it’s obvious the technique wasn’t exactly one for the ages.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) holds a yearly Virtual Reality Conference, and this year’s exposition, held in Orlando, has revitalized the connection between sights and smells with a television that actually emits odors, rendering scratch-and-sniff cards to the annals of yesteryear. Now all those manure documentaries clogging up your DVR can finally be experienced as they were intended. Well, not exactly.
The TV, created by researchers from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, is set into a mount with fans lining both sides, which can “generate a localized odor distribution” as if the odor was placed on the screen, and “leads the user to perceive the odor as emanating from a specific region of the screen.” The odor can also be shifted around as needed. There’s no word on how the odors are input into the system, or any other relevant facts beyond this being an olfactory television. If anything, it will make the six cologne commercials I see in a year that much more enjoyable.
Were there more important devices showcased at the VRC? No doubt, but none of them could potentially make The Walking Dead a vomit-inducing experience.