Researchers at UCSD are partnering with Samsung to create a compact device for your TV or phone that can generate thousands of smells. The technology works by using a 100×100 matrix of thin metal wires that heats any one of 10,000 smell-forming aqueus solutions, allowing for 10,000 different smells. The researchers tested two different perfumes, and found that the smells were perceptible up to 30cm away.
While there are absolutely times when the olfactory feedback would be awesome (Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory immediately comes to mind) and times when it would be horrible (the Jackass movies; all porn ever), I kind of get the feeling advertisers would get the most mileage out of it. Sure we’d know the smells are synthetic—on several ascending levels—but damn if it isn’t already hard enough to resist those delicious Popeye’s shrimp ads.