R&D demo points way to multisensory future

This week in Amsterdam in the Future Zone at IBC2011, those with a keen sense of the future had the opportunity to get a grip on what’s to come — literally.

There, Hiroshi Ando, director of the Multisensory Cognition and Computation Laboratory at Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, demonstrated the work being done in his lab to deliver a viewing experience that not only involves the eyes and ears, but also the olfactory and tactile senses as well.

The multisensory interactive technology on display brought together 3-D viewing with a forced feedback device in the shape of a stylus to recreate the haptic sense and a micro-aroma shooter to deliver fragrances to the nose. In the demonstration given at IBC, a single attendee could look through 3-D glasses at animated representations of three deflated balloons. When the participant in the demonstration touched one of the balloons with the style, it inflated. Touching an inflated balloon with the stylus reproduced the real-world experience one would expect from holding a pencil and pressing the eraser end into a balloon. The participant could also pop the balloon with the stylus, releasing the scent of mint.

Ando has high hopes for the technology and envisions a time in the not too distant future when the technology will be commercially available. He envisions the multisensory experience one day assisting young doctors in training as they learn surgical techniques. Ando even sees a role for the technology in the over-the-top market, where shoppers not only one day will be able to view a product of their liking, but also touch and smell it from the comfort of their homes thanks to the multisensory representation of the item.

In this week’s video podcast shot during IBC2011, Ando discusses the technology.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.