Why do companies have to mess with a good thing?
Wal-Mart wants to make DVDs stink. Literally.
By early summer, Wal-Mart will sell DVDs with electronic kits that release smells at key moments during a movie.
Have you ever trolled Ebay or Craigslist for used furniture or home entertainment electronics? Ever notice how it’s a bonus if a piece comes from a “non-smoking home”? Yeah, that’s because most people don’t want their belongings to reek.
What does Wal-Mart’s odor gadget make me think of? Let’s play charades. Smells like…
When Wal-Mart’s device starts spewing the odor of spent gunpowder during a gun battle in a movie, you’re not going to become more “immersed” in the movie experience. Quite the opposite! You’ll likely be thinking to yourself, “Crap, now is my expensive home entertainment center going to smell like firecrackers?”
And that’s not the only way in which the Smell Factory 5000 will detract from the movie-watching experience. Unless it can provide a 100% constant and realistic simile of the “odor environment” suggested by the images on the screen, the machine will do nothing but distract you from the movie every time it emits (or doesn’t emit) a stink attack.
Scenario 1: “Hey, what’s that smell? Oh, I get it. That’s supposed to be the smell of strawberries. ‘Cause that guy in the movie just ate a strawberry. Wow, I had forgotten that smell machine was there. I was enjoying this fine piece of cinema until that stupid machine fired up for the first time in twenty minutes to dump some useless odor on us.”
Scenario 2: “Ok, so I have to admit I was impressed with the lifelike smell of gasoline that the gadget made when the dude in the movie spilled gasoline. But since then, there’ve been three times in the last ten minutes when a really evocative picture on the screen made me expect to smell something coming from the gadget, but… nothing!”
Plus, I suspect there will be a noisy little fan involved in the machine’s smell-dispersal process that will further draw attention away from the action on-screen.
Wal-Mart is not in consumer-technology-development business. There is very little chance the company will pull this off. Mark my words. With a sharpie.