Idea to transmit taste, smell patented

The Japanese entertainment giant Sony has patented an idea for transmitting data with smell and taste components directly into the brain.

    The Sony technique, based only on theory, is totally non-invasive

    This will enable a person to see films and play video games in which they smell, taste and perhaps even feel things.

     

    The patent - based only on a theory, not on any invention - marks the first step towards a "real-life Matrix", the British science weekly New Scientist says in next Saturday's issue.

      

    In the sci-fi film of that name, cyber-reality is projected into the brains of people via an electrode feed at the back of their necks.

      

    In Sony's patent, the technique would be entirely non-invasive - it would not use brain implants or other surgery to manipulate the brain.

     

    The patent has few details, describing only a device that would fire pulses of ultrasound at the head to modify the firing patterns of neurons in targeted parts of the brain.

      

    'Prophetic invention'

     

    The aim, the patent says, is to create "sensory experiences" ranging from moving images to tastes and sounds.

      

    New Scientist said it was denied an interview with the inventor, who is based at a Sony office in San Diego, California.

      

    "It was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will
    take us"

    Elizabeth Boukis,
    Sony spokeswoman

    Sony Electronics spokeswoman Elizabeth Boukis said the work was a "prophetic invention" and no experiments at all had been done on it.

      

    "It was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us," she told New Scientist.

      

    Independent experts said they did not dismiss the idea out of hand, although they also cautioned about the proposed method's long-term safety.

      

    So far, the only non-invasive way for manipulating the brain is crude.

     

    A technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation uses magnetic fields to induce currents in brain tissue, thus stimulating brain cells.

      

    But magnetic fields cannot be finely focussed on small groups of brain cells, whereas ultrasound pulses could be.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.