UCSD Researcher Developing New 4-D Technologies

 

Professor of mechanical, aerospace and nanoengineering at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering Sungho Jin and his team of graduate students used an X-Y matrix system to reduce the circuitry that would allow the system to be placed in a compact device.

The research was primarily focused on miniaturizing the odor-releasing technology currently found in 4-D theaters operated by South Korean conglomerate CJ Group. Whether the responses to such technology in consumer electronics that the research targeted, such as televisions and cell phones, will be as positive as it has been for 4-D movies remains to be seen.

CJ Group’s 4DX system combines movements, smells and tactile experiences with traditional 3-D technologies to provide the moviegoer with a new 4-D experience.

Special programmers spend weeks making use of the moving seats, water-spraying nozzles, mist, bubbles, giant fans, strobe lights and a collection of 1,000 scents to create a more immersive experience.

Advances in technology allow the system to finally simulate multiple senses at once. For example, in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the seats swayed as ocean smells and mist were released to take the audience to out to a rowboat on the ocean.

In recent years, the film industry has seen a decline in sales as Blu-ray and HDTVs have provided a cheaper home theater experience.

“Theatres need to find new ways to bring people back to the multiplex and away from their couches,” Theodore Kim, chief operating officer for the Los Angeles lab of CJ 4DPlex, said to the Los Angeles Times.

CJ Group owns and operates the largest chain of movie theaters across Asia, including 29 4-D theaters in Thailand, Mexico and South Korea. The company reports sell-out crowds and great responses in these special theaters that regularly show Hollywood hits such as “Avatar,” “Prometheus” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

For all the successes of 4-D, though, adopting the new technology may take a while because of its high costs. It costs about $2 million to install one 4-D system in a single theater, meaning consumers will help pay the price with an increase in ticket prices of up to eight dollars. It also means a full 4-D experience at home is years away.

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