The Big Idea: A Sweeter Smelling World

Movie ticket and 3D glasses with popcorn scattered around.


On today’s Big Idea, we are reaching back to the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and the motion picture industry. The movies, you see, had done what entertainers did not think possible: They toppled the Radio Industry. Perhaps one of the reasons motion pictures managed to out-perform radio was in how it continuously re-invented itself. From the introduction of sound to bigger, better cinematography to color, radio just couldn’t compete.

Thetingler.jpgThen the motion picture industry in the 1950’s encountered a challenger for the entertainment crowd: Television.

Suddenly, movies were scrambling for clever gimmicks to get people out of their homes and into the cinemas. From the action leaping off the screen through 3D films to making you believe The Tingler was under your very seat, Hollywood was ready to try anything to get you in the theatres. One failed venture that not many people mention, especially when talking about “great moments” in cinematic history was the short-lived innovation of Smell-O-Vision.

Yes, you read that right—Smell-O-Vision.

Smell-O-Vision, created by Hans Laube, did exactly what you think it would do.  Triggered by the film’s soundtrack, an odor would be released through the theatre’s seats during key points of a film, putting the moviegoer in the movie through their olfactory senses. Smell-O-Rama was featured in the 1960 film Scent of Mystery, injecting 30 odors in the cinema during the movie. This concept, believe it or not, face a competing system—AromaRama—that came with the travelogue film Behind the Great Wall, and for a brief time AromaRama and Smell-O-Vision duked it out at the box office, but in the end, critics agreed more or less that when it came to going to the movies, both of these experiences stank to high Heaven. This was why neither Smell-O-Vision nor AromaRama really took off.

Here we are now, over half a century later, and a startup is wanting to being Smell-O-Rama into your home, car, or office!

Suppose you’re hosting a beach-themed party at home, and you’ve got your place all decorated up. You have beach balls and maybe some seashell about. Put some Jimmy Buffett or Bob Marley on. It sounds like a beach party, it looks like a beach party…

…but it doesn’t smell like a beach party.

360198.jpgVapor Communications wants to bring the beach—and other sweet scents of the world—to you with Cyrano, a “scent speaker” that uses multiple, interchangeable scent capsules to make your space smell nice. By mixing up different scents, Cyrano can create different “mood medleys,” emitting one scent after another to trigger different feelings like relaxation, energy, or freedom. The Cyrano, named after the hero sporting an epic nose, is a cylindrical device no bigger than a short jar of peanut butter. It holds three interchangeable scent capsules, each containing four different scents. The smells are very distinct: lilacs, honeysuckle, sunscreen—you get the gist of it. Now unlike fresheners that are on all the time, Cyrano alternates scent releases before your brain has a chance to block out any one particular smell.

Cyrano can be controlled with a smartphone app called oNotes; and yes, you can build your own scent playlists just like with Apple’s iTunes or Phillips’ Hue lights. The device will “play” different scents, switching between chosen odors, beacause what happens is if you have a certain smell after about 10 minutes you can’t smell it anymore. Cyrano keeps switching around aromas so your nose is always on and in tune with whatever emotion or setting you’re looking to create for your home. The device costs $150 and come with a starter scent package. Replacement scents, which last about a month with regular use, cost $20. Cheaper than a night out at the movies.

Hans Laube would be so proud.



shurtz.jpgA research physicist who has become an entrepreneur and educational leader, and an expert on competency-based education, critical thinking in the classroom, curriculum development, and education management, Dr. Richard Shurtz is the president and chief executive officer of Stratfdord University. He has published over 30 technical publications, holds 15 patents, and is host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk. A noted expert on competency-based education, Dr. Shurtz has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for educators in Jamaica, Egypt, India, and China, and has established academic partnerships in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Malaysia, and Canada.

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