SMELL-o-vision has been a staple of bad sci-fi for decades, but could finally be edging closer to the average living room thanks to a super-accurate Japanese system.

A team from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in Japan have invented a ‘smelling screen’ that makes smells waft from the spot on a display that their corresponding objects appear.

The development promises to make adverts for fried chicken or fresh coffee even more appealing - or alternatively add an as yet undreamed of realism to documentary programmes like Life of Grime.

Smell-o-vision is nothing new, having been on the entertainment technology radar for over five decades.

The idea made its first widespread appearance with the 1960 film Scent Of Mystery (also known, less puntastically, as Holiday In Spain), which timed odours to specific points in the narrative.

The film opened in three specially equipped theatres in in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Unfortunately, the mechanism did not work properly and audience members complained of a hissing noise accompanying the scents - as well as a delay between the actions and their corresponding smells.

As a result the film failed miserably, even after the mechanism was fixed. But perhaps it was just an idea whose time had not yet arrived - for the latest Japanese technology seems to promise a new frontier in smell-related multimedia entertainment.                          –GN