People have been able to scratch-and-sniff for as long as anyone can remember at this point, but for some Japanese scientists that's just not good enough. They want to be able to use a modified ink-jet printer to actually print smells. They've already got a working model, and they plan on showing it off this week.
Kenichi Okada is the leading scientist on the project, and he is working with several more scientists out of the Keio University. The team plans on showing off the ink-jet printer in Florence, Italy this week. The goal of the printer is to let people not only print an image that looks great, but can also stimulate the nose. So, if you see someone holding a lemon in an image, you can actually smell that lemon.
Okada and his team worked closely with Canon, who specialize in pictures and print. The result, was a standard ink-jet printer that the companies transformed into an "olfactory display." The printer can now switch between four aromas. As of now, though, the three main ones are lavender, mint, and lemon. Okada says that the ink-jet printer works the best, because the ink-jets are able to "emit tiny pulses of material to achieve precise control."
Unfortunately, the printer isn't capable of syncing smells to an object quite yet, but Okada says that is the next step. So, here in the near future hopefully, we'll not only be able to look at an image and remember a fond event, but we'll also be able to smell certain aspects of it.
[via New Scientist]