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emerging technologies


Generated scent is delivered to a specified position through free space by scent projectors that accurately produce a small region of scented air. The user perceives the scent at a precise time and position without wearing any equipment.

Art and Science

Technologies that control olfactory space will enable people to enjoy scents as media in their daily life. SpotScents could be used at home, in shops, and in public places without special air-conditioning facilities or forcing users to wear any special devices. For example, at home people can enjoy movies and interactive games that feature rapid smell switching that corresponds to changes in scenes. For TV broadcasting, advertisers can provide a series of short "scented" commercial messages (perhaps 15 seconds). For example, a perfume commercial could follow a coffee commercial. In retail commerce, businesses can use suggestive smells to make people notice shops as they walk through shopping malls. In their creative works, artists can incorporate odors into multimodal pieces without worrying about mixing smells from adjacent works in an exhibit.


To control 3D olfactory space and incorporate the olfactory channel in virtual reality applications and ordinary audio-visual content, including movies and games. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve a natural, unencombered experience so that scent can become a commonly used component of digital media.


So far, the major problem with emitting scents has been that odor diffuses to a wide area, and it does not dissipate quickly. And, of course, some people dislike scents that others love, so dispersed scents can be unwelcome.

To overcome these problems, SpotScents uses scent projectors to deliver localized odors to a human's nose through free space without requiring users to wear any special devices or trailing tubes. A scent projector is composed of an air cannon mounted on a pan-tilt platform. The air cannon launches vortex rings that can travel several meters (the distance depends on the design parameters of the air cannon, such as aperture size). Because Scent Projectors emit only a small amount of scented air, different scents can be delivered within a short time frame without air conditioning equipment.

One problem with the system's original design was that users could feel a significant wind force when the vortex ring hit their faces. The current system uses a novel method to allow scented air carried from a nearby place to stay awhile at a certain location without the unnatural sensation of a sudden air current. This was achieved by intentionally breaking the vortex rings, launching multiple rings, and letting them collide at the target point.


As scents become common spatio-temporally controllable media, artists and technologists can incorporate scents as well as sounds, images, and movies in their works. Future versions of SpotScents will closely combine the olfactory experience with audio/visual content, so users can feel the air of "the world beyond the screen."


Yasuyuki Yanagida
ATR Media Information Science Laboratories
yanagida (at)


Haruo Noma
Shunsuke Yoshida
Akira Utsumi
Shinjiro Kawato
Kenichi Hosaka
ATR Media Information Science Laboratories