Dude! What`s that smell? Print E-mail
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Written by Christophor "SuperGuido" Rick   
Sunday, 15 October 2006


Most gamers who have been to a LAN party, a marathon gaming session or a gaming convention have heard this line in the past. But it might have an all-new meaning for gamers in the near future.

Professor Takamichi Nakamoto who works at the School of Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is trying to find a way to add smell to such things as virtual reality and television. Can video games be far behind?

Imagine playing Battlefield 1942 and smelling the gunpowder from your weapon or the acrid scent of smoke and wet dirt from a nearby explosion or seasalt in the air when you're near the ocean...

I suppose it could have some drawbacks like the fetid smell of rotting flesh from the next generation of zombie killing games or the stench of trash that has been sitting in the summer heat for a week as you drive through the ghetto. Memories can be induced by a smell alone, but can smell alone enhance the memory and game play experience?

You're standing in the batter's box and with two outs a full count a man on third and a tied score. You're trying to concentrate when the smell of fresh hot dogs hits you distracting you for just a moment and reminding you that you're hungry. You bring yourself back to the present just in time to foul off the pitch and stay alive for another chance to be a hero.

It could be interesting some day. So far the erstwhile olfactory Professor and his aromatic array of assistants haven't quite managed to make it that complex, but they're working on it. They recently showed a cooking game where players add ingredients to a virtual Wok in order to make Japanese curry and as each ingredient is added and cooks the scents are pumped out to a mask the player wears.

They've also recently tested the tecnology with a scene from the film Spirited Away, by Hayao Miyazaki, where the parents of Chihiro, the main character, feast on a host of foods like two contestants at a hot dog eating contest before they're magically transmogrified into pigs.

While the technology is about the size of a European wash machine at the moment the Professor believes that with today's technology it will eventually be small enough to fit in everyone's entertainment center.

BBC News Story
Prof. Nakamoto's Website

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