Scientists from the Keio University in Japan are developing a printer that can print actual scents onto a page. This smelly undertaking is being made a reality thanks to the use of a modified garden-variety Canon inkjet printer, except, instead of ink, the printer shoots jets of scented fluid onto a sheet of paper.
According to the Universities Kenichi Okada, the "inkjet printer's ability to eject tiny pulses of material" was perfect for the job, as it allows for precise control when it comes to managing the scent and its overall effectiveness.
But the work isn't quite complete. As it stands now, the printed scent doesn't last long, the scent lasts for a sniff or two before dissipating. Additionally, producing the scented fluid, be it of a bunch of roses or rotten food, is a mammoth task. The scent jet can output smells such as lemon, vanilla and mint, but developing a matrix from which any smell can be printed is going to be a tough job.
It's fairly clear from the challenges outlined above that scent-printing is a long long way off, but the applications could be interesting. How about a menu which you could smell? A perfume/cologne sample which is added to a magazine during the printing process? Many a practical joke?
How or why would you use scent printing? Let us know your ideas in the comments, just make sure your idea doesn't stink.