Monday, November 22, 2010

Scratch and Sniff Television?

Scratch-n-Sniff at Maker Faire from Alex K. on Vimeo.

No sooner had I posted about a DIY olfactometer than I came across Alex Kauffmann’s DIY scratch and sniff television. Talk about awesome. You scratch a sliced grapefruit image on the touch screen, put your nose close, and bingo, you smell grapefruit. (Back in 1959, NBC news anchor Chet Huntley sliced an orange in half on the big screen to demonstrate the cinematic wonder of AromaRama. Is the grapefruit an homage or a citrus coincidence?)

Smelly TV inventor Kauffmann describes himself as an insight-based innovation consultant with a diploma in Interactive Telecommunications. You could also call him a high-tech tinkerer with a creative flair. He says that producing the videolfactory effect “required some clever sleight of nose.”
First of all, I gave people clear visual cues. When you scratch a picture of chocolate, you’re much more likely to interpret the resulting smell as chocolate. I also made the screen respond to being scratched by fading, just as scratch-n-sniff stickers do after vigorous scratching.
So how does he do it? Remember S.C. Johnson’s Glade Wisp, the little home scenting unit that automatically puffed out fragrance every few minutes? It was also billed as the Flameless Candle. Kauffmann’s cannibalized a few Wisp units, hooked them up to a touch screen through a breadboard-for-artists called Arduino, and used software to program the interactivity (screen fade on scratch). Plus he used a lot of electrical tape. High-concept, yet with an appealing Mad Max style of execution.

Kauffmann tells me he’s writing a magazine article about his Smelly Telly project and plans to show the setup in New York in the next few months. We’ll keep our nostrils open.

No comments: