Welcome to The Deep science and technology column where we cover topics from the deep sea to deep space and beyond. Visit our website at www.thedeepradioshow.com
Greetings! I thought we’d dip into the technology file today to see if we can discover what those geeks are bringing into our future. Would you believe chocolate? Read on!
Today’s television programs are designed to appeal to your senses of sound and sight. But what if they could trigger a few more? What if you could smell the cheesy slices of pizza being eaten by your favorite characters on TV? Is it possible? Would audiences enjoy the experience? Would advertisers jump on the opportunity to reach consumers in a new way?
Researchers at the University of California San Diego collaborated with the Samsung folks in Korea to demonstrate that it’s possible to generate thousands of odors with a device small enough to fit on the back of your TV or eventually even your cell phone.
If people are eating pizza, the viewer smells pizza. If a beautiful lady walks by, they smell perfume. Instantaneously generated fragrances or odors would match the scene shown on a TV or cell phone
The scents come from a liquid that forms an odorous gas when heated through a thin metal wire by an electrical current. The solution is kept in a specialized plastic compartment. As the heat and pressure build, a tiny compressed hole in the container is opened, releasing the odor.
The next steps include developing a prototype and demonstrating that it’s reliable enough to release odors on cue and can be sized for consumer electronics like TVs and cell phones. Then, there’s the selling phase where manufacturers discover if there’s a market for bringing all sorts of brand-new smells into your very own home. Smell-o-vision here we come!
So . . . it looks like we’ll soon be able to smell the coffee, but what about the chocolate? The latest news from England is that researchers there have developed a 3-D printer that prints in . . . . chocolate.
3-D printing is a technology that creates three dimensional objects by building up successive layers of material. The technology is already used to produce plastic and metal products but this is the first time the principles have been applied to chocolate.
There have been many challenges. Chocolate isn’t an easy material to work with because it requires accurate heating and cooling cycles. These variables have to be integrated with the correct flow rates for the 3-D printing process. Researchers overcame these difficulties with the development of new temperature and heating control systems.
The researchers used chocolate because it’s readily available, low cost and non-hazardous. And if what you’re trying to make doesn’t work out, you can eat the mistakes! You could make your kid’s favorite toy or give your friend a chocolate bar with their face on it (A little creepy from my point of view).
A consumer-friendly interface to design the chocolate objects is also in development. The researchers hope that an online retail business will host a website for users to upload their chocolate designs for 3-D printing and delivery.
The researchers add that in the future, the 3-D printing process will allow people to produce products like jewelry and household goods, but getting the metals, plastics and other materials to produce them could be a problem.
But getting chocolate is no problem at all and soon the ability to mold your favorite sweet into any shape you want may be coming to your very own home!
Gives a whole new meaning to Valentine’s Day!
Chocolate printer (Credit: Image courtesy of EPSRC)
Cruise on over to the Deep Website at www.thedeepradioshow.com to learn more about chocolate and many other topics. Enjoy!