• Can Chromatography Make Smell-O-Vision Possible?

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Can Chromatography Make Smell-O-Vision Possible?

Feb 03 2018

“Wouldn’t it be cool if they had smell-o-vision?” — It’s something we’ve all thought or even said at some point. OK, maybe not everyone. Either way, it looks like the fantasy invention could become a reality thanks to chromatography and one company’s recent patent approval. Read on as we look at how TVs can work with yet another one of our senses.

Flipping things round

When most people talk about merging TVs and smells, they think about smelling what we see. Imagine, watching your favourite TV chef and being able to smell what they’ve cooked. Unfortunately, that’s not the direction that’s been taken. Instead, Rovi Guides will be looking to create TVs that can smell their surrounding environment.

A patent issued to the company, owned by TiVo, on 26th December 2017 describes “methods and systems for recommending media assets based on scents”. So, what exactly does this entail?

Getting a taste for the room

The patented system will use a so-called scent mode to test the smells of a room. This is done using a range of “electronic noses”, including chemical sensors, biosensors, gas chromatography systems and mass-spectrometer systems. Find out more about mass-spectrometry in the article ‘MS Atmospheric Pressure Ionisation Sources: Their Use and Applicability’.

After detecting and identifying smells, the system will use them to tailor adverts for users. So, it could detect the smell of pizza, and recommend adverts for other fast food – or just more pizza. Alternatively, it might detect pets and recommend pet toys or pet food. Of course, there’s always a worry that it would recommend air freshener for some viewers, which might be hard to take…

Even more possibilities

It’s not just adverts. Once the technology is in place, it could be used to recommend TV shows to users too. With a bit of market research, it’s easy to find patterns in consumers that can help link smells to TV shows. It might be the case, for instance, that people who eat more pizza, prefer horror movies.

And the system isn’t necessarily limited to smells. Environmental factors like heat and humidity can be detected, which could be used to recommend an ice-cold drink to the viewer. How about advertising hot summer holidays when the room is cold too? That’s a sure-fire way to get people booking time away.

Ready to buy your smell-o-vision? Nothing has been put on sale just yet, but it’s certainly worth keeping your eyes (and nose) peeled for more developments in the future.


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