Willy Wonka may be a fictional character and his chocolate factory a far-cry from reality but one aspect of this much-loved story could be closer than we think. A team from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have recently unveiled a brand new technology allowing viewers to smell as well as see. Using tiny gel pads in the screen, odours are ‘wafted’ across the screen in order to stimulate your sense to perceive that a particular smell is emanating from the object appearing on the screen. Just imagine being able to smell that Dairy Milk chocolate advert as it flicks onto your screen. That’s exactly what the researchers and developers hope to achieve – a way of making adverts appeal to more than just our sense of sight and sound.
The Japanese developers also hope it could eventually be used in documentaries. If you’ve ever been the Jorvic Centre in York, you’ll know the kind of thing they’re aiming for. In the famous Yorkshire Viking museum, visitors can experience a trip through time including the smells that would have pervaded the air at the time, including smoke and home-cooked stew.
Currently the technology can only produce one smell at a time – the gel pellets releasing the odour into four air streams across the screen – but hopefully it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be able to see a full roast dinner on our screen and smell it too. So, when’s the lickable wallpaper out?