New Screen Lets You Smell Items as They Appear

Japanese researchers have developed a "smelling screen," an LCD display that emanates virtual odors from the exact spot where items are appearing. The technology could eventually be used in advertising and museum exhibits.... and be really annoying.

The smelling screen, also known as an olfactory display system, was developed by Haruka Matsukura and his colleagues at Tokyo University's Department of Agriculture and Technology.

The system is equipped with four fans on each corner of the screen, and they gently push the air forward to make the experience seem as realistic as possible. Moreover, the airflows collide several times to create an airflow that can be guided towards the user from a specific region on the LCD screen. This gives the user the impression that the odours are not coming from the fans, but from the screen itself. And in fact, the user can shift their head to smell different items displayed on different parts of the screen.

As for the virtual odours themselves, they're generated by vaporizing gel pellets. The system can only produce one smell at a time, but the next version will have a cartridge that will allow for multiple odors.

The smelling screen was recently demo'd at the IEEE Virtual Reality 2013 conference in Orlando, Florida. Check out the entire study.

H/t New Scientist.

Image: Haruka Matsukura, Tatsuhiro Yoneda, Hiroshi Ishida/Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.