Smell-O-Vision: Have Japanese Found Sweet Smell of Success?

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What if you could actually smell that chicken frying, or that cake baking on your favorite TV cooking show? Or, what if you could actually smell that dead body discovered after a three week search on your favorite TV crime show?

It's called Smell-O-Vision. The ability to smell the fragrances and odors associated with what we are watching on the tube or movie screen. It has been the dream of inventors for decades, but no one has ever quite perfected the technique.

Now a couple of researchers at Keio University in Tokyo think they have figured out how to do it. They took regular home computer printers and replaced the ink with various scented liquids. They then forced the scents through the inkjets and came up with hints of multiple aromas, like grapefruit, lavender, cinnamon and others.

Past efforts to stimulate our sense of smell while watching television or a movie didn't actually, well, stink. But, they weren't all that successful either. During the 60's, scented sachets were attached to movie seats to enhance the ambience. But, apparently, it took too long to get the smell out of the theater when the movie was over. Experimenters tried every from spritzing perfume over an audience to placing cotton soaked in some scent in front of a blowing fan.

The Keio University researchers have a lot more work to do before their version of "Smell-O-Vision" is perfected. But if their work holds up, perhaps, one day, what the actors on the tube say they smell, you might smell. Combined with the increasing popularity of 3-D TV, that would bring TV watching to a whole new level, perhaps bordering on sensory overload.

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