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  • Films
  • Issue 40

BAD IDEA:
Smell-o-Vision

The quixotic history of an improbable, impossible machine. Words by John Ovans. Photograph by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

The movie industry is currently searching for ways to get butts back in seats. One thing it is unlikely to consider is resurrecting Smell-o-Vision, a much-hyped “immersive experience” that was meant to be the next big thing, then wasn’t.

First introduced during the 1939 New York World’s Fair by Hans Laube—a Swiss advertising exec-turned-“world-famous osmologist, ” according to the press materials—the premise was that theaters could be rigged up with a system known as the “smell brain, ” which would release odors via tubing to individual audience seats. 

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This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty

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