Smell-o-Vision was definitely one of the more gimmicky technologies of the 1960s. Early attempts to realistically pump scents into movie theaters were as technologically sophisticated as a "Scratch and Sniff" card.
Since then, companies have tried to replicate the “science.” In the late '90s, for instance, a company called Digiscents attempted to create a device called the iSmell that could be used to experience scents as you were surfing the Internet. Instead of being revolutionary, it earned the distinct honor of being named one of the 25 worst tech product names ever. (Seriously? iSmell?)
But two new companies, Scent Science and Sensory Acumen, are putting a more sophisticated -- and much cooler -- 21st century twist on this previously ridiculous technology. Using atomizers and a computer or game console connection, these devices spray scents into the air that correspond directly with the games you're playing or the movies you’re watching. Talk about reality TV.
The ScentScape lets users customize their own “scent information” to release certain smells related to the action in video games. In the future, gaming companies could sell racing simulation games with the scent of rubber and gasoline, golf games wafting of freshly-cut grass, or boxing games that smell like sweat (although I don’t know who would buy that). And if gamers can create their own, personalized scented games, players could share them with other gamers as a way to enhance and share the experience.
Some may think this is sensory-overload, but I welcome the chance to enjoy the scent of strawberries and cream with my Wimbledon. Though let’s make sure we can turn ScentScape off during horse racing events, OK?
-- Follow Erica Orange on Twitter at @ErOrange