May 20 - A device that projects text or pictures onto scented bubbles has been created by UK-based computer scientists. SensaBubble uses a concept called 'chrono-sensory experiences' to deliver messages its creators say, could be adapted for gaming, education, or even email communication. Jim Drury reports.
This is the SensaBubble, a multisensory device which could change the world of advertising, and one day, even email. It produces scented bubbles filled with artificial fog made of water and glycerine, onto which images and text can be displayed, sent by an off-the-shelf projector. The idea comes from University of Bristol researchers, including Diego Martinez. SOUNDBITE (English) DIEGO MARTINEZ, POST DOCTORAL RESEARCHER AT UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, SAYING: "We have a unit that actually creates the bubbles, we have a bellow that we fill with smoke. We dip it in soap solution and that way we can track and project onto the bubbles,...and then to detect them and to project onto them we are using a Kinect and projector system." Martinez's colleague Sue Ann Seah wants to challenge what she calls the pervasive nature of computer screen messaging. SOUNDBITE (English) SUE ANN SEAH, POST DOCTORAL RESEARCHER AT UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, SAYING: "We wanted to make a mid-air display… If you have technology blended into your environment what can you use? A bubble was quite a nice thing to use because it was mid-air and it was also engaging and an aesthetic display." But there's more to it than aesthetics. The visual display lasts only until the bubble bursts, but then a lingering fragrance, approporiate to the tone of the message, is left behind. Martinez says the fragrance could alert users to emails, recently received. SOUNDBITE (English) DIEGO MARTINEZ, POST DOCTORAL RESEARCHER AT UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, SAYING: "That message comes to your screen but at the same time if you are not there you might miss that notification. The idea of the smell is that even if you are not in the room, when you come back you smell and think 'hey, my friend wrote, my girlfriend wrote.'" But more immediately, team leader Professor Sri Subramanian sees potential for interest among retail mall vendors. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR SRI SUBRAMANIAN, OF UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL'S COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT, SAYING: "You walk into the mall or you walk into some kind of food court or exhibition space and you want to be able to attract people's attention to the sense of smell, along with some simple, catchy, logos that are put on it." The device is still at prototype stage, but the team is eager to float their idea for commercialisation as soon as possible. They say for future communications, it's a SensaBubble alternative.