Japanese scientists create ‘Smell-O-Vision‘ screen

scent of mystery

 In 1960, the film Scent of Mystery amazed the spectators to make them feel odours.

Adapted from the 1947 novel Ghost of Chance by Kelley Ross, where Denhol Elliott tries to discover a plan to murder Elizabeth Taylor while driving across Spain countryside used Smell-O-Vision’s capabilities. During the film, smell and scents where released. In the end, the assassin was identified by the smell of a smoking pipe.


Although it was news and novelty, it was quickly forgotten and the technology abandoned for some years.

However, the principle of attracting through smell remained. Today, it´s common to go into a supermarket and feel the smell of freshly baked bread or bbq chicken. It´s powerful!

Over the years, technological advances have not stopped surprising us. We went from phones that required an operator, who transferred the calls among the few existing phones, to smartphones that speak, listen and respond to our touch and our proximity. And will not take too long until they can smell us, literally!

According to some news brought to public, Adamant Technologies is developing a chip that will help smartphones sense  aromas and flavours and digitize them in report

The idea is to win the public appealing to the use of technology for health and safety issues, Apple wants to install an application on the iPhone that allows users to analyse breath, checking for health problems or excess of alcohol.

But this is a technology opposed to the one used in 1960 movie. Instead of a system that expels odours, this one collects odours.

Returning to the initial theme, the odour releasing technology has had some developments. Synthetic odours and tastes are not new. They are widely used in food. For example, they are used to give the taste of oak to wines not aged by artisanal means: wooden barrels.

Tokyo University

Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have developed a smelling screen that puts the nose into play.

The big issue is the cost involved for the user of this technology. To make a single smell, several chemical are needed. Here lies the problem. For a television set to have the ability to release odours, it would need a kit with several chemicals. Users would have to be willing to pay for refills. Otherwise, they would try it out, show it to their friends and quickly abandon the idea.

technologyIn my opinion, this technology, with refilling kits will have to be rethought. I doubt that even with no maintenance costs, it would be cool enough to became widely used and ensure the financial viability of the business.

I, for one, think I would find distasteful to have mixing odours in one room. If we think that during a movie there are thousands of possible smells, the result could be enough to have you open all the windows and doors… Surely the marketing and the distribution industry will find a way!

I believe that marketing will sort this out, and solve the equation, obviously. But still, not all people like the scent of roses or find lavender soothing.

In cinemas, it should be interesting if combined with 3D viewing. Maybe it is a way to rehabilitate the cinemas and bring innovation to the distribution industry.

We will wait for developments that will surely happen.

By Cristina Gouveia


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