21st Century SmelloVision and the Truly Tricky Problem of Artificial Olfaction

Here’s an interesting problem. When it comes to human senses, we’ve found ways to reproduce the look and sound of the real world reasonably accurately. There are even technologies for reproducing the feel of certain experiences, such as flight and car simulators. But the problem of reproducing smell is much more intractable. The 1960 SmelloVision experiment is a case in point—this involved some 30 odors that were released into the cinema at certain times during a movie. Only one film—Scent of Mystery—ever used the system, which rapidly failed. The truth is that nobody has found a way to accurately reproduce odors from the real world. And consequently, artificial olfaction is a technology that sits stubbornly beyond our reach. The problem is essentially to measure an odor at one point in…


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