Thursday, February 02, 2006

Leave Smell Enough Alone

About two months ago I presented a retro tech entry about Smell-O-Vision and Aroma-Rama. Well, some things never change.

I was looking at recent US patent applications and came across Patent Application 20060018787 (Guo, Yixin; January 26, 2006), entitled "Synchronized electronic smell emission method and device for television programs, movies and other programs."

How does the proposed invention work? You'll likely buy a box that contains small cylinders of compressed gas — each small cylinder has its own unique smell and its own valve. You'll plug a program card into the box, which synchronizes smells with TV video and audio. As you watch the program, the program card sends signals for valves to open and close, allowing odor to leave the cylinders. A fan causes the odor to move across the room.

There's really nothing novel in this invention, but the Patent Office will probably push it through anyways.

If there's really nothing new, why do I bring it up at all? It struck a chord with me and made me laugh. The inventor describes the invention and is very specific — yet quite vague — about the types of smells that are included in the first design. The smells include:
the scent of flowers, perfume smell, coffee smell, smell of a fried dish, fruit smell, smell of sourness, spicy smell, stinking smell, fishy smell, smoke and fire smells and ammunition smell.
From this list I personally love stinking smell. Might I suggest cadaverine or putrescine?

There's nothing quite like the smell of rotting flesh on your clothes. You just can't wash it out. Trust me. In a former life I worked on a project where we used a device to "smell" dead bodies to determine time of death. We used straight cadaverine (without the dead bodies) to run prelim tests. Despite my best efforts, a minute amount of cadaverine spilled on my shirt sleeve one day. I smelled so bad that I cleared offices wherever I went. Now that's stinking smell.

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