Researcher: Smell-capable TV 'doable'

June 15, 2011 at 7:08 PM
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SAN DIEGO, June 15 (UPI) -- Television viewers are surrounded by sight and sound, but U.S. researchers want to add smell to the small-screen experience.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, conducted a two-year experiment in collaboration with Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in Korea, the school said Tuesday in a release. The researchers demonstrate that it is possible to generate odor in a compact device that can fit on the back of a TV with potentially thousands of odors.

The proof-of-concept paper was published online Tuesday in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

"For example, if people are eating pizza, the viewer smells pizza coming from a TV or cellphone," said Sungho Jin, professor in the departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Nano-Engineering at the university's Jacobs School of Engineering. "Instantaneously generated fragrances or odors would match the scene shown on a TV or cellphone, and that's the idea."

Jin and his team of graduate students used an X-Y matrix system to minimize the amount of circuitry necessary to produce a compact device that could generate any odor at any time, the university said. The scent comes from an aqueous solution such as ammonia, which is kept in a compartment. As the heat and odor pressure build, a tiny hole is opened, releasing the odor.

The UCSD team tested the device with two readily available perfumes. In both cases, a human tester could smell and distinguish the scents within about a foot of the test chamber.

"It is quite doable," Jin said.

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