THE UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL has developed a rather strange multi-sensory technology that projects images onto soap bubbles and releases a scent when they are burst.
Dubbed Sensabubble, the research is led by Professor Sriram Subramanian from the University of Bristol's Department of Computer Science, and is a chrono-sensory mid-air display system that generates scented bubbles to deliver information to people using different senses.
The technology creates bubbles with a specific size and frequency, fills them with an opaque fog that is optionally scented and controls their routes, tracks their locations and projects an image onto them. It can also make either small, medium or large-sized bubbles.
The university said the research paper, which will be presented at the ACM CHI 2014 human-computer interface conference at the end of April, could be used in areas such as gaming or education and "encourage a new way of thinking about multi-sensory technologies".
"Sensabubble uses the concept of chrono-sensory experiences where layers of information are presented via different senses for variable length of times, each attracting different types of interest from the user," the university said. "Firstly, a visual display [is] projected onto the bubble which only lasts until it bursts; secondly, a scent released upon the bursting of the bubble slowly disperses and leaves a longer-lasting noticeable trace."
Professor Subramanian claimed that there are few research systems that explore and examine ways to use this kind of technology. "We have taken the first steps to explore how smell can be used to enhance and last longer in a visual object such as a soap bubble," he added.
Subramanian said that the technology could be adapted for use in a variety of areas including education, alerts and engaging user experiences, and could be applied to a clock, for example, that releases the number of scented bubbles corresponding to the hour, or "Sensabubble Maths", an educational game for children, which incorporates smell as feedback on their success.
"Interactive technologies that are directly targeted at generating public interest and drawing the user's attention have many applications in advertising and certain forms of education, such as museum exhibits," the university added. µ