Scent Could Enhance Television Viewing

Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Sungho Jin’s research brings us one step closer to an odor-enhanced television experience. In April, Jin and his team completed a two-year research experiment on a system that can give off specific odors on command. Jin does not expect any difficulty programming this system to give off scents in synchronization with images on a television.

Jin’s system utilizes a number of isolated elastic polymer-based chambers containing different liquids. These odorous solutions go through electrically induced heating and are subsequently released in gaseous form.

Jin — a nanoengineering professor — has placed a great deal of scrutiny upon the materials and the methods used to shape them.

The chambers are made of a silicone elastomer, which is a rubber-like polymer that offers a variety of benefits to the user. These perks include mechanical elasticity, proper circuit isolation between divergent components and resistance in extreme temperatures. The latter attribute is particularly advantageous considering the liquids must essentially be boiled in order to be released as gasses.

The polymer-based material is produced via a cross-linked technique, which prevents solvents from entering or damaging the chambers.

Plotting the controller system design on a Cartesian coordinate system allows researchers to fit more switches on a smaller surface area. The efficiency of this method requires far less controllers than a system in which there is a single dedicated switch for each odor. In future research, Jin plans to explore a 3D matrix which would depend on less controllers, further minimizing the size of the device.

“This is a very good way for companies to market their products during commercials,” Jin said.

Whether the masses have actually displayed a large demand for an olfactory-enriched entertainment experience, innovators have worked on similar projects for some time now.

Osmologist Hans Luabe worked alongside a film crew in 1960 to create Smell-O-Vision, one of the first ever such systems. However, this creation could only release 30 scents and did not function properly.

A few other attempts made since then have failed, until now.

“It is quite doable,” said Jin.

The apparatus developed at UCSD, with financial support from Samsung Electronics, is considered to be a conceptual research model. After further research, all that is left to do is to create a realistic concept that can be attached to a television set.

Jin addressed how the collaboration between he and his fellow researchers made a big impact on smell-based technology.

“When you get together and share ideas, things just click,” Jin said.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2320
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2320
$500
Contributed
Our Goal