/ Technology

Smell-O-Vision’s officially here – a gimmick too far?

Dog smelling camera

Have you ever wondered what a female protagonist’s perfume smells like when you’re watching a movie? Or maybe you’ve longed for the smell of burning rubber while playing Gran Turismo? If so – Smell-O-Vision’s here!

I’m sure everyone thought Smell-O-Vision was dead when the concept failed to take off in the 1960s movie Scent of Mystery. The film took advantage of a technique developed by Hans Laube, where different smells, from cigar smoke to oranges, were emitted from the theatre seats.

That’s really as far as ‘smellies’ went… until now. Sure, a Time magazine reader survey may have listed Smell-O-Vision in the ‘Top 100 Worst Ideas of All Time’, but it’s sniffing its way back.

The stench of video games

A new device, called ScentScape, brings smells to gaming. No, not the stench of sweat and mouldy coffee that you might pin to the stereotypical PC gamer. Instead, this emits pongs that are relevant to the video game itself.

When you’re raging around in Call of Duty you can enjoy the whiff of shotgun fire. Or if you’re skipping around in Fable, take pleasure in the aroma of woodland scrub. Hacking and slashing in Dante’s Inferno? Relish the stench of burning… flesh. Ok, maybe that’s not quite what the product’s US creator, Scent Sciences, was going for.

It’s not the prettiest piece of kit, the Metro describes it as a ‘mix between a toaster and a cat-carrying case’, but ScentScape promises to enrich the gaming experience. We’ve already got surround sound, force feedback, motion controls and now 3D – so the only sense that’s holding us back from full immersion is smell.

ScentScape works by combining the odour of 20 basic scent cartridges, to create all sorts of smell to enhance your gaming experience. It’ll cost around £44 to buy and should provide approximately 200 hours of gaming scent.

Do you want Smell-O-Vision?

But is this a gimmick too far? Many of us are already peeved by the onslaught of 3D, and then there’s the steady march of motion controls. When we’re playing Killzone 3, do we really want the smell of futuristic warfare mingling with the stench of our own sweat as we wave around the PlayStation Move motion controller?

Then again, if you want Smell-O-Vision, fair play. It’s your choice to add whatever you’d like to your gaming or TV viewing experience. The problem is that game developers and TV programme creators will have to throw themselves straight onto the bandwagon if we’re actually going to enjoy the full benefit.

Developers will have to program the relevant smells into their games, for example. And somehow I don’t think they’ll want to spend extra money on creating odours that just a few of us will sniff. But maybe you’ve been waiting for Smell-O-Vision all your life?

Do you think Smell-O-Vision is a gimmick too far?

Yes - why would you want to smell what you see? (57%, 131 Votes)

No - I think smells could enhance TV and games (25%, 58 Votes)

I couldn't care less about this stinking poll (18%, 42 Votes)

Total Voters: 230

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InspiredNinja14 says:
27 January 2011

Hmmm, the sense of smell is the last one and is a vital step towards the goal of total immersion Virtual Reality engines. With the technology now available to cover all the senses, we just need to improve our computing power for total exploration of Virtual Worlds is possible, and it’s an exciting thought.

On the other hand, I do worry what chemicals would be used in such a device to produce the smell and the environmental impact of producing them. These considerations need to be looked at before I can support any mass production of such a device.

as far as i can see…….or smell it won’t be the production or industry take-up of these smells. it will be the “build up”, problem. if the machine is on all day in an average room any new aroma production after about half an hour will be wasted in the smoggy mix that has filled the air. either there has to be a machine that sucks the old air out of the room or users will have to have those “casualty/intensive care” tubes up their noses. makes 3d specs seem almost appealing now doesn’t it ?

Should be fun when the detectives on a CSI game go into the sewers.

No- really – we play things in our nice cosy home – why would we want that nasty stuff.

as for cheap DIY, buy three cans of Febreeze and spray Orchards when running through forests,
Oriental when entering the Chinese Mafia den
and when entering gangster environments, sniff an ashtray and your own armpit in turn.