– Emeril Lagasse
Although seemingly counterintuitive, smell actually preceded the use of sound in the movie industry. As early as 1906, a theater in Forest City, Pennsylvania used cotton wool dipped in rose oil and an electric fan during a newsreel about the Rose Bowl game. A few decades later in 1929, a theater in Boston, Massachusetts used Lilac oil its ventilation system during a showing of a musical film titled Lilac Time. The musical was inspired by the sensory experience of Lilac and sprayed perfume from the ceiling during its premiere in New York. More experiments of smell cinema in the 1940s included the showing of ‘Sea Hawk’, which used aromas such as tar from a sailing ship in order to set the mood for the scene. A drama titled ‘Boom Town’, used scent to indicate and distinguish characters such as tobacco for Clark Gable, pine for Spencer Tracy, and perfume for Hedy Lamarr .
As the television set became more available to the average household, Laube implemented techniques similar to the smart belt into the development of a television version. In the design, he produced a small, inexpensive gadget that produced 500 different scents. However, the invention never successfully became available to the public and has not since been brought up again, until recently .
How it works
The researchers at University of San Diego and the engineers at Samsung are hoping to utilize the human olfactory system and deliver smells to your television set. Their goal is to create a device that will miniaturize and digitize an odor-on-demand system that can be controlled and be available in a wide variety of scents. They plan to engineer a system made of odor pixels controlled by the television show. The odor pixels will be provided in a compact box containing a 100×100 matrix of scents and thin metal wires which would then be attached to a television set .
An X-Y matrix system is used in order to minimize the amount of circuitry and reduce the design down to 200 controllers (100 on the X-axis and 100 on the Y-axis). These controllers will in turn select and activate each of the ten thousand aromas. The scents will be made up of a liquid solution and form an odorous gas when heated. Each of the solutions will be kept in a silicone elastomer container that will be non-toxic and non-flammable. An electrical current is sent through the lead wires to heat the container of the chosen scent. Heating will occur at any one of the ten thousand intersections of the matrix of liquid solutions. As a result, the heat will then build pressure, and create a tiny hole in an elastomer to open to release an odor measured by the detector . The release of scent would be controlled by the television shows of the future, which would pre-program the release odors at specific instances.
Interactive scents have also been used in the fashion industry. Scented fashion similarly releases scents in response to environmental factors . For example, The Second Skin dress by Jenny Tillotson opts to use smell technology to promote wellness through aromatherapy. The dress is designed to give off smell according to emotion. When the user is feeling tension, a calming scent such as lavender will be emitted to counteract stress.
Another exploration is digital scents through the Internet. Engineers in Oakland, California have developed a digital scent device, called the iSmell. This device intends to transmit digitized smells through your computer by USB connection. The technology used in iSmell is coded and digitized into a small file and can be opened via email . Comparable to the iSmell, engineers at TriSenx, in Savannah, Georgia, are taking it one step beyond being able to download a scent. They are creating the SENX machine which prints smell and taste. Here, the company has developed a patented technology that allows printing of smell onto a thick fiber sheet which allows users to taste specific flavors by licking the paper coated with the smell . The SENX machine is similar to a printer, but will instead produce smells based on data programmed into a web page. SENX, which stands for Sensory Enhanced Net eXperience, uses disposable fragrance cartridges with 20 chambers holding different scents. The 20 chambers allows for the production of over thousands of smells .
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-  P. J. Kiger, M. J. Smith. “The Lingering Reek of “Smell-O-Vision.” In70mm. Internet: http://www.in70mm.com/news/2006/oops/index.htm, May 22, 2006, [Sept. 12, 2012].
-  “Coming to TV Screens of the Future: A Sense of Smell.” USCD Jacobs. Internet: http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=1082, Jun. 14, 2011, [Sept.12, 2012].
-  “How Internet Odors Will Work.” How Stuff Works. Internet: http://www.howstuffworks.com/internet-odor1.htm, Jan. 5, 2001. [Sept. 12, 2012].
-  J. Tillotson. “Smart Second Skin.” Smart Second Skin. Internet: http://www.smartsecondskin.com/main/smartsecondskindress.htm, [Sept. 12, 2012].