Smell-O-Vision Perfected. But, Why?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Scientists in Japan have announced that they've finally perfected a system to deliver "Smell-O-Vision".

Although spoofed in yesterday's " Google ( GOOG) Nose" April Fools' Day video, researchers from Tokyo's University of Agriculture and Technology have actually figured out a way to allow screens to give-off scents to enhance the viewing experience.

This apparent technological triumph is accomplished by a network of four vents that supposedly deliver one of a number of pre-loaded scents. A prototype of the system was demonstrated last week at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Virtual Reality Conference in Orlando, Fla.

On the surface, this sounds like a joke. It might just be a technological breakthrough we really don't need. Do most of us actually yearn for every smell in the universe to come from our computer monitor? The scent of a flower, a freshly-brewed coffee or a wonderful home-cooked meal. Maybe. Others choices might include the smell from a sewage plant, truck fumes or gunpowder. Not really odors most people would want in their home.

But smell-o-vision may be coming whether we like it or not. It could be a feature built-into future flat-panel monitors. With HDTV sales slowing to a crawl, manufacturers are intent on finding the "next big thing." 3D TVs didn't rock anyone's boat and we're at least a year away before those new ultra high-definition "4K" TVs becoming affordable. At the moment the first ultra-definition models are ultra-expensive - think $13,000 ( LG) to $25,000 for Sony's ( SNE) 84-inch model.

But jokes aside, these smell-o-vision scientists should be congratulated for developing the technology. I'm guessing it might turn out to be a great feature for personal-gamers. But, for living room TV watching, we'll have to wait for those 4K monitors that don't smell.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.